Have you ever wondered what life would be like on the other side of caffeine? Maybe you’re worried that coffee might do more harm than good, that there’s some hidden dark side to the dark roast. Of course, like too much of any good thing, there are drawbacks, but rest assured, my Frappuccino-loving friends, there are plenty of health benefits from your favorite cup of joe!
So what are the pros and cons of coffee consumption? Read on to find out!
Benefits of Coffee
Coffee Fights Disease
Coffee is rich in polyphenols; an antioxidant and phytochemical that alleviates oxidative stress in your body’s cells. And that oxidative stress is the culprit behind many chronic diseases.
Are you not convinced yet? Then, let’s take a closer look at how coffee helps you live longer.
According to the American Heart Association, the risk of heart attack fell by 5-12% per cup of coffee per day. It helps your heart pump stronger! But skip the added sugar and fat, or else those benefits are meaningless.
Based on a study published in BMC Public Health, consuming 2 cups per day correlated to a 43% reduction in the risk of liver cancer. Though the reasons are not known, that’s not the only benefit to your liver. Coffee drinkers are 20% less likely to develop non-alcoholic liver disease and 49% less likely to die of non-alcoholic chronic liver disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, drinking one cup of coffee a day can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 11-17%. Experts believe that certain nutrients in coffee reduce inflammation, making your body more effective at processing insulin. However, if you already have type 2 diabetes, this is not the case, and you may want to switch to decaffeinated coffee.
There is a strong connection between Parkinson’s Disease and coffee, with studies linking them as far back as 1968. Experts may not understand why this link exists, but the results are undeniable. Coffee lovers are less likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease.
Many studies have concluded that moderate consumption of coffee may reduce your overall risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease later in life. Though some findings have been inconsistent, one thing holds: drinking coffee doesn’t make your odds worse.
Coffee Helps Your Brain Function Better
It’s true! Once again, thanks to caffeine. When caffeine is in control, it stimulates the body to release more noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. So what does that mean for you? Let’s take a closer look.
Noradrenaline, also known as norepinephrine, is a naturally occurring chemical produced by your brain when it thinks a stressful event has occurred. For example, when you sip your morning coffee, it triggers your body into fight or flight mode. As a result, blood flow to your muscles increases, reaction times and cognitive function improve, and you’re suddenly paying much better attention to things around you.
Dopamine, another neurotransmitter like noradrenaline, helps us find things more interesting. It improves our motivation and our focus and plays a role in how we feel pleasure. Some studies show that, combined with noradrenaline, they keep our cognitive processes working well. And, dopamine may be one component behind Parkinson’s Disease prevention.
There’s a reason that the first cup of coffee makes you feel so good. Serotonin! This naturally occurring chemical is known as the “happy chemical” and works by stabilizing our moods, happiness, and overall feelings of well-being. It even helps fight depression! So take another sip and enjoy the day.
Coffee Wakes You Up
Caffeine is a chemical stimulant that tricks your body into not feeling tired. Caffeine molecules look just like adenosine. Adenosine is a natural chemical your brain produces to signal your body to rest. Caffeine binds itself to the adenosine receptor and keeps your neurons firing.
The average cup of coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine and takes about 30 minutes to hit your system. You’ll notice a peak about one hour after consumption that stays with you for several hours. So go ahead and enjoy that morning brew!
Coffee Makes You Poop
Coffee, or more importantly caffeine, can activate contractions in the colon and intestinal muscles. Once the colon starts contracting, things get moving.
Why is a daily dump a good thing? Garbage in, garbage out! Your body wants to rid itself of what it doesn’t require, and pooping is the way to do it.
Coffee also makes you urinate a lot. This is because caffeine signals your pituitary gland, which inhibits the production of the antidiuretic hormone, which in turn stops your kidneys from absorbing more water.
Coffee is Rich in Antioxidants and Nutrients
Coffee is one of the largest sources of antioxidants in the human diet. One cup of joe contains 1-2 grams of antioxidants per day. Not sure what makes antioxidant compounds so unique?
Antioxidants work to disarm free radicals, those unstable atoms that cause damage to brain cells and cause illness and aging. Some antioxidants can even repair your DNA!
Coffee Reduces Pain
If you’ve got a headache, don’t be afraid to down a cup of coffee with that painkiller. Caffeine restricts blood flow, which helps to alleviate pain and boosts many over-the-counter headache medicines.
Some findings from Harvard Medical School suggest coffee may also ease your pain, especially when you haven’t had enough sleep, and you’re feeling extra sensitive.
Drawbacks of Coffee
Too much of any good thing can have drawbacks, and coffee is no exception. Below are some adverse effects of drinking too much java.
Coffee Can Cause Headaches
That’s right, a little goes a long way, but too much, and you may find your head throbbing, especially when you take your caffeine in the form of a painkiller.
Best to take a break and a long nap instead.
Coffee Causes Anxiety
Coffee triggers your body into a mild state of fight or flight. Though it keeps your mind focused, it can worsen anxiety and trigger a panic attack.
If you experience any anxiety over coffee, we recommend a soothing tea or switching to decaf.
Coffee Disrupts Your Sleep
Caffeine prevents our bodies from feeling tired, but too late in the day, and it can cause us to stay awake. Some research suggests that caffeine disrupts our circadian melatonin rhythms and may lead to insomnia and poor quality of sleep. It may also make you tired!
Our tips: Always drink coffee in moderation and never too late in the day.
Coffee Causes Jitters
We’ve all been there: shaking hands, short of breath, dizzy and lightheaded, that unsettled feeling in the pit of your stomach. Unfortunately, going overboard on the coffee can bring on the jitters.
Eating a hearty meal might help to calm those nerves.
Coffee May Cause a Whole Bunch of Health Issues
High Blood Pressure
The caffeine content in coffee stimulates your nervous system and gets your heart pumping. That’s good news for people who suffer from low blood pressure, but it may cause problems for people with high blood pressure.
Remember to always drink in moderation, and don’t be afraid to switch to decaf coffee for your health.
Though studies suggest that caffeine isn’t responsible for heart palpitations, you may experience them if you are new to caffeine or have a caffeine sensitivity. If you ever feel that fluttery, uneven rhythm to your heartbeat, we recommend seeing a specialist right away.
Low Iron Absorption
Studies have found that caffeine reduces iron absorption in our bodies and lowers our iron storage levels. The good news: tea and instant coffee are far worse. The bad news: you may want to cut back if you are iron deficient.
Coffee affects our central nervous system, increasing our blood pressure and our heart rates. Too much and blood flow to the heart may be discouraged, resulting in chest pains. There may be other reasons for the chest pains, but you may want to cut back until you know the cause.
Though it doesn’t cause digestive issues, coffee does increase the production of stomach acid. That, in turn, may cause upset stomach, heartburn, and reflux.
We suggest that you avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach to alleviate a lot of these issues. Or add some baking soda to make it easier on your stomach.
Drinking too much coffee on a day-to-day basis can erode your enamel and lead to tooth decay. The solution: use enamel-strengthening toothpaste and avoid brushing after you drink.
Addiction and Withdrawal
Though studies have proven that you aren’t technically addicted to coffee, it sure feels like you can’t live without it! And caffeine withdrawal has officially been recognized as a disorder by John Hopkins.
Caffeine dependency leads to withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, irritability, low energy, depression, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and flu-like symptoms. These may last from two to nine days!
If you need to cut caffeine out of your life, it’s best to reduce your coffee intake slowly over a couple of days.
Happy (healthy) Caffeinating!