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I love the smell of coffee in the morning. In fact, it’s the only thing I actually enjoy in the morning (most days I wish I could will my alarm into disappearing). That first cup is the crowning moment of my morning routine that gets me out the door and into what the day holds.

Like most coffee lovers, I rationalize my coffee habit as the one thing that keeps me functional and cheery throughout the day. A no coffee day is very likely to become a day full of lethargy and crankiness. Some of my coworkers may even say I become a cantankerous old man.

But did you know that the time you drink your coffee actually has a huge impact on your overall health?

That’s right; when we drink our coffee may actually be more important than how much coffee we drink every day.

The Golden Time For Coffee

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It turns out that my coffee habit is completely unhealthy. No, it’s not because of how much I drink. It’s because it’s the first thing I drink when I wake up early in the morning.

The good folks at AsapScience have explained why the when matters more than the amount of coffee.

Your internal clock (aka your circadian rhythm) regulates your level of wakefulness throughout the day by producing cortisol to wake you up. If you’re drinking coffee during a high production time of cortisol, you’re diminishing the positive effects of caffeine and making yourself more vulnerable to developing a caffeine addiction.

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Your cortisol peak hours are 8am to 9am, 12pm to 1pm, and 5:30pm to 6:30pm.

This means that the best possible time to drink coffee are the hours following these peak cortisol times because your body actually needs something to bring up your level of alertness.

If you’re an early bird, just make sure you drink coffee an hour after you wake up because your cortisol production levels spike during that first hour.

There’s a Limit, Stay Within It

Even if you’re armed with the knowledge of the ideal time to drink coffee, it still doesn’t mean that you can guzzle down 5 espressos without any long-term consequences to your health. A recent study from the European Food Safety Authority just established the ideal guideline regarding our daily intake of coffee.

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It basically boils down to this: your ideal daily dose should be 200 mg of caffeine from teas, coffee, and chocolate.  If you’re a veritable coffee addict, the maximum limit is 400 mg of caffeine per day.

For children and pregnant women, 200 mg should be their ideal daily intake limit.

What does 400 mg look like to the average coffee drinker? A single espresso contains about 80 mg of caffeine and the average cup of Americano has 90 mg of caffeine.

This means that you should not go over 4 cups per day. If you’re going over the daily intake you’re liable to suffer anxiety issues and become increasingly vulnerable to insomnia.

Why Coffee Is Amazing

Drinking the ideal amount of coffee (less than 400 mg) will actually speed up your metabolism, protect you from Alzheimer’s, and release you from the terrifying grip of constipation.

And did I already mention it’s packed with antioxidants?

If you’re not a fan of coffee, you can also get your caffeine fix with these amazing coffee alternatives.

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/27/caffeine-intake-five-espressos-damage-health-eu-food-standards

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/food-cocktails/news/a41064/drinking-coffee-wrong/?src=spr_FBPAGE&spr_id=1440_185445879

Image Source:

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