Coffee: The Good and The Bad
There are so many coffee lovers all around the world! Many people rely on their morning cup of coffee to wake them up and start the day. Are you one of them?
Coffee is known for sharpening focus, improving mood, and increasing productivity. It has been linked to many potential health benefits but also to risks. Are you wondering if coffee supports or harms your health? Then, let’s find out the good and the bad about coffee!
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How does coffee work?
Coffee is a beverage made of coffee beans. Coffee beans are the roasted seeds of the Coffea arabica bush.
Coffee is a primary source of caffeine, which stimulates your central nervous system, muscles, and heart. It is also a great source of vitamin B2, magnesium, and several antioxidants. These can decrease inflammation and prevent chronic and acute diseases.
What is a moderate amount of coffee?
As stated by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a moderate amount of coffee is around 400 mg of caffeine daily. This is equal to 3-5 cups of coffee a day.
Research indicates that when consumed in moderation, coffee is a healthy drink. So remember that it is essential to drink the right amount to get the most out of coffee.
The Good About Coffee
- It can increase your longevity.
Coffee can lower your risk of mortality. Research has found that drinking 1 to 4 cups of coffee daily is linked with a reduced risk of death from any cause.
- It supports your heart health.
Drinking coffee can be beneficial for your heart health. So far, studies have shown the following:
- Drinking 1-2 cups of plain black coffee daily may prevent heart failure.
- Drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- It supports your brain health.
Research indicates that drinking coffee can protect you from neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Here are the scientific findings:
- People who consume coffee regularly have a lower risk of developing the mentioned diseases.
- Caffeine intake may decelerate the progression of Parkinson's disease, allowing better control of movements and less frequency of tremors.
- Consuming coffee moderately is linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
- Drinking coffee has also been associated with lower progress of dementia.
For more, follow our guide to improving your brain health naturally.
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- It protects you from liver conditions.
Consuming coffee is beneficial for your liver health. It reduces damaging liver enzyme levels, decreases liver stiffness, and limits liver scarring. It also reduces the risk of developing liver cancer as well as the risk of dying from chronic liver disease.
- It supports your DNA strength.
Dark coffee may lower breakage in DNA strands. This breakage happens naturally. However, it can result in cancer or tumors when not properly fixed by your cells.
- It protects you against type 2 diabetes.
Research suggests that drinking one or more cups of coffee daily decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- It lowers melanoma risk.
If you drink four or more cups of coffee daily, you have a lower risk of developing melanoma.
- It increases energy levels.
Coffee is rich in caffeine, which decreases fatigue, fights exhaustion, and improves your energy levels. Caffeine has also been shown to increase mental alertness, even after sleep deprivation.
- It might promote weight management.
Coffee can impact fat storage and improve your gut health, supporting weight management. Research has shown a link between coffee intake and reduced body fat.
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- It reduces the risk of depression.
According to studies, drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of depression and suicide.
In fact, each cup of coffee you consume is associated with an 8% reduced risk of depression.
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- It may improve athletic performance.
Coffee is many times consumed as a performance enhancer by athletes. Studies have stated that consuming coffee before physical activity can increase people's endurance, improve their performance, and lower their perceived exertion.
To sum up, coffee benefits your overall health if consumed moderately. Individuals who drink coffee get more overall health benefits than those who do not. They generally have a reduced risk of having heart disease and cancer or dying from any cause.
- It supports your social life.
Getting together with friends or work colleagues to drink coffee is very common. It is the perfect reason to take a break and socialize. Thus, it can promote your social life and mental health.
- It can help your body process glucose better.
Studies have shown that coffee can better support your body's processing of glucose (or sugar). This is linked to the decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes coffee drinkers benefit from.
- It may improve your thinking.
Caffeine has been shown to enhance clear thinking. Drinking a cup of coffee before starting to work or study may be a good idea.
- It can prevent gallstones.
Consuming around 400mg of caffeine daily seems to reduce the risk of gallstones. The more you consume, the lower the risk.
- It can decrease the risk of developing kidney diseases.
Drinking coffee has been linked to a lower risk of developing kidney conditions.
- It works as a laxative.
Coffee improves bowel regularity. If you do not have regular bowel movements, this may be the time to start drinking coffee! Approximately a third of coffee drinkers state the need to use the bathroom about 30 minutes after enjoying the beverage.
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- It enhances your microbiome diversity.
Research suggests that drinking coffee improves your gut microbiome diversity. Since a diverse microbiome is linked to good health, this is an excellent benefit for you.
The Bad About Coffee
Now that you already know coffee's numerous health benefits, be aware that it also has certain risks. These risks are often associated with specific individuals or drinking too much.
- It can cause caffeine addiction.
Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant that can cause addiction. Consuming large amounts of caffeine regularly can lead to physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and difficulty sleeping. You can learn more about this issue here.
- It can lead to insomnia.
Coffee can interfere with sleep by stimulating the nervous system and causing insomnia, especially if consumed later in the day.
- It can cause gastrointestinal issues.
Coffee can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, causing heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers.
- It can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
Caffeine in coffee can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can be problematic for individuals with high blood pressure or heart conditions.
- It is associated with anxiety and restlessness.
Coffee can cause anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness, especially in individuals sensitive to caffeine.
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- It can leave you dehydrated.
Coffee is a diuretic, which means it can increase urine output and lead to dehydration if not consumed in moderation.
- It may interfere with nutrient absorption.
Coffee can interfere with the absorption of certain minerals, such as calcium, iron, and zinc, especially when consumed in large amounts.
- It may increase your number of headaches.
Drinking an excessive amount of coffee can cause headaches. If you suffer from these frequently, consider cutting back your coffee intake.
- It can make you feel more nervous and irritable.
By stimulating your central nervous system, caffeine can make some individuals feel nervous and irritable, especially when consuming too much.
- It can cause tachycardia.
According to research, coffee can lead to a fast heartbeat and tachycardia.
- It can cause muscle tremors.
Drinking too much coffee has been linked to muscle tremors and spasms.
- It may be the reason for frequent urination.
Consuming coffee can be the cause of your frequent urination or your difficulty in controlling urination. In this case, try to limit or avoid coffee intake.
- It can be a source of sugar and fat.
The fat and sugar in many coffee drinks harm your health. Most of these drinks are just empty calories. Therefore, the best option would be to drink plain black coffee without additions.
Also, consider that the research on this topic is based on the benefits of black coffee. If you are not the biggest black coffee fan, try adding natural sweeteners, such as agave, cinnamon, or honey, to enhance the flavor. These can be beneficial for your health.
It is important to note that the risks of coffee can vary depending on the individual's health status, genetics, and other factors. However, most risks result from drinking too much coffee. Therefore, it is recommended to consume coffee in moderation and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your coffee consumption.
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When should you avoid or limit your coffee intake?
While coffee is a popular beverage consumed by many people worldwide, there are times when it may be best to avoid it. Here are some situations when you may want to steer clear of coffee:
If you have trouble sleeping.
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Suppose you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. In that case, avoiding coffee or other caffeinated beverages may be best.
If it is late in the day.
Try to avoid drinking coffee during the evening. The caffeine present in the coffee may keep you up when you go to sleep. This can lead to trouble sleeping and sleep deprivation, which are serious issues. So, choose decaf instead, in the late afternoon or post-dinner.
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If you are pregnant.
While moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 mg per day) is generally considered safe during pregnancy, high caffeine intake has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. It is recommended that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake.
If you have high blood pressure.
Caffeine can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, which may be a concern if you already have high blood pressure. It is recommended that people with high blood pressure limit their caffeine intake.
If you have acid reflux or stomach ulcers.
Coffee is acidic and can irritate the stomach lining, worsening symptoms of acid reflux or stomach ulcers. If you experience these conditions, you may want to avoid coffee or switch to low-acid coffee.
- If you take certain medications.
If you are sensitive to caffeine.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and may experience side effects such as jitteriness, anxiety, or heart palpitations. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to limit your intake or avoid it altogether.
If you have osteoporosis.
Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee daily is associated with calcium loss and fractures. If you have osteoporosis, limiting your coffee consumption is best.
Coffee is only safe for adults!
If you have children, make sure they do not drink coffee. Research has shown that caffeine raises blood pressure and decreases heart rates in children. Keep in mind that this occurs even with small quantities of caffeine.
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The Bottom Line
However, keep in mind that coffee also has some risks, especially when you have certain medical conditions or drink an excessive quantity. Remember that moderation is key!
Also, please note that specialists usually recommend three to four cups of coffee daily, max. By drinking moderate amounts of coffee, you will profit from several health benefits while enjoying a delicious beverage.