If you are a fellow coffee fanatic, you may find yourself waking up in the morning feeling groggy, and reaching for a cup of coffee to help pep you up - subsequently seeing the drink as a Godsend!
While drinking coffee can help you wake up, it might cause problems to you in other ways. It can cause changes in your sleep patterns, raise your blood pressure, stain your teeth and even make it more difficult to absorb certain vitamins and minerals.
Of course, there are other benefits to drinking coffee besides boosting your energy. It can also reduce the risk of disease, Alzheimers, gallstones, cancer, strokes and other health problems. Plus, caffeine can also make certain pain killers, like Aspirin, more effective.
The good news for coffee enthusiasts is that the beloved beverage offers several health benefits. However there are a few potential issues to be aware of. If you're a coffee lover who adores the smell, taste, and the ritual of starting the day with a hot mug or icy brew, then read on where we delve into the pros and cons of coffee, making sure you are drinking it in a way that suits you!
Heartburn & Stomach Ulcers
Being a caffeinated beverage, coffee increases acidic levels in your stomach. While when taken in moderation this can aid digestion, however, problems like heartburn or stomach ulcers can arise when you indulge in too much or drink it on an empty stomach, as it can inflict on the lining of your GI tract.
Coffee Contains Antioxidants
Coffee beans are actually the seeds inside a small bright red or yellow fruit. Both the seeds and fruit are rich in antioxidants. Studies show that coffee consumption may play a key role in protecting against certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, and prostate cancers, as well as heart disease, obesity and Parkinson's disease. Lifelong coffee/caffeine consumption is also associated with prevention of cognitive decline, and a reduced stroke risk.
Scientists say the possible reasons for a link between coffee and the reduced risk of type 2 diabetes could be that coffee is antioxidative, has anti-inflammatory effects, the ability to boost calorie burning and impact on the content and diversity of health-protective gut microbes.
In terms of brain health, caffeinated coffee ups alertness and may also improve memory for up to 24 hours after consumption.
Headaches & Hallucinations
The Continuous presence of caffeine in our body can increase your heart rate as well as stimulate your central nervous system. This effect accompanied with dehydration can cause a constant headache while elevated adrenaline level and caffeine overdose can lead to hallucinations while sleeping at night or make you jittery.
As caffeine is a stimulant drug, caffeine intoxication causes a cluster of symptoms associated with stimulation of the brain and nervous system. While caffeine users enjoy the increased energy and alertness that caffeine can offer, there are also some potential unpleasant symptoms which can include:
Restlessness, Nervousness, Excitement, Difficulty sleeping, Agitation, Muscle twitching, Rambling flow of thoughts and speech, Flushed face, Increased heart rate, Stomach upset and Increased urination.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms most often noticed by people going through caffeine withdrawal is a severe, intense headache. When coming off caffeine, people often feel very tired and even drowsy. They may have difficulty concentrating, and feel depressed or irritable. Occasionally, people withdrawing from caffeine also experience flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain or stiffness.
Coffee Isn’t Dehydrating - If Consistent
An increased intake of coffee can dehydrate your body and show up as dullness of skin, rough patches on your face or fatigue. However, caffeine has long been criticized for contributing to dehydration due to its diuretic effect, which triggers fluid loss. However, newer research indicates that after about four days of consistent caffeine intake, your body adjusts, which negates the dehydrating effect.
The trick is, you have to be consistent. In other words, if you sometimes have one cup of coffee in the morning, sometimes three, or if you occasionally reach for it in the afternoon, you may feel the diuretic side effects, such as headache and low energy.
In additional, it's advisable to add an extra glass of water per coffee cup you consume a day.
Too much coffee simply means a lot of caffeine, which in turn raises cortisol, aka stress levels. While your cup of coffee can give you an instant boost in mood, however consuming strong coffee can have bad after-effects on your mood. Coffee addiction can lead to anxiety as well as restlessness.
However, coffee can also support happiness. One study from a few years back confirmed what many of us intuitively believe: coffee is happy juice. Researchers found that drinking coffee is linked to positive emotions, including pleasure, kindness, affection, satisfaction, friendship, calmness, and yes, happiness.
Coffee May Boost Your Workout
Several studies have shown that in moderation, caffeine can enhance athletic performance. The effects include improved circulation, increases in muscular strength, endurance, and power, plus reduced pain. That may help you push just a little bit harder during workouts, resulting in better improvements in muscle strength and/or endurance.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that muscle carbohydrate stores are replenished more rapidly when athletes consume both carbs and caffeine following exhaustive exercise. Compared to carbohydrates alone, the combo resulted in a 66% increase in muscle glycogen (the storage form of carbs) four hours after intense exercise. This surge in energy reserves ups your ability to exercise harder and/or longer the next time you’re ready to get your heart rate up.
Try The Following...
Drink Organic When Possible
Coffee crops are heavily sprayed and the pesticides remain in the coffee beans. Go for the free-trade varieties that are farmed using more traditional methods in developing countries (that way you can also help the farmers!).
Enjoy Between Meals
Coffee speeds up the digestion and movement of food through the gut and thus decreases absorption of many nutrients as well as medications. Having coffee with or immediately after meals is most problematic as it can strip good nutrients. Try to limited coffee consumption after 2pm, this then allows your body enough rest and recuperation until the next coffee fuelled morning!
Skip The Milk
Most supermarket milks are highly processed, and if not organic they contain traces of hormones, pesticides and preservatives which add to the body’s toxic load. If you can’t give up white coffee, use nut, coconut or oat milk, or even a small amount of cream instead (ideally organic) – just watch out for the calories!
The Cup Makes All The Difference
Take-away coffee sold in plastic containers has traces of plastics and other preservatives/coatings found inside the cups and released with the heat.
Giving up caffeine, can help towards better sleep and the evenness of energy levels. Decaf still offers health benefits, such as antioxidants, disease protection and even increased alertness. So if you enjoy coffee, but caffeine doesn’t agree with you, you can still reap many of its rewards in decaffeinated form.
Skip The Sugar
It adds up! If you are having a few cups per day, plus sugar, this may counteract any of the benefits discussed above by spiking your insulin levels contributing to insulin resistance, try and cut back if applicable, or use sweetener alternatives like coconut sugar, honey or cinnamon!
How caffeine affects your body is linked to your genes. People who have genetically slow metabolisers of caffeine actually have an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and pre-diabetes after increased caffeine coffee consumption. Whereas fast metabolisers do not carry these risks as much.
For slow metabolisers, research also shows that caffeine inhibits athletic performance, rather than enhancing it. Testing your genes for the variants that impact caffeine metabolism isn’t something you can typically request from your doctor. But research-based testing is available.
Also, coffee consumption during pregnancy is linked to low birth weight, pre-term birth, and pregnancy loss.
Finally, before grabbing your next "cafe con leche", consider the above, as there are many pros, and cons to coffee consumption, make an informed personal decision as to if, when or how you enjoy your coffee.
PLUS... If you do cut it out, you can always use it as a great body scrub or compost!