I love coffee. I’ve read how women shouldn’t be drinking coffee and how too much caffeine is bad, but I LOVE COFFEE!
I’ve tried giving it up, usually for lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter), I even tried giving up caffeine for a month. I didn’t find it helped or hindered my health. Coffee doesn’t affect my acne, anxiety, tummy or anything like that.
I am a little confused about whether or not it keeps me up though. A couple of years ago I found that I suddenly was unable to go to bed before 2 am. If you’re a night owl, you probably understand that if you aren’t strict with your bedtimes and when you get up, you easily end up staying up late.
It’s the way we’re wired. Yip, I promise. I won’t go on my little rant about the world being geared for morning people here, but know, that being a night time person is not just in your head.
Anyway, the point is, that I figured it was coffee and cutting it out after 4pm seemed to help. But I’ve also thought, ah, what the heck and had coffee after 5pm, even once at 8pm and experienced no difficulties falling asleep between 12 and 12:30 am which is when we usually go to bed.
I also found that when I’m exhausted, nothing helps but sleep or for a very short time, sugar. Not even coffee.
So I think I’m just not that sensitive to caffeine.
Who Should Avoid Coffee?
I thought I’d get this out of the way. Coffee does get a bad rap for a lot of things and the truth is that for most people, coffee is fine and even very healthy.
But there are some people who should avoid coffee, or at least in the majority of cases, caffeine.
Some people are genetically predisposed to caffeine sensitivity. If you experience the following symptoms after drinking coffee or even tea (white, green, black, oolong), coke, etc, you likely have caffeine sensitivity:
- Feeling jittery
- Feeling anxious or worsening of anxiety
- Feeling wired but tired
- High blood pressure
- Feeling restless
Try cutting out caffeine and see if you feel any better.
Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
Much to the woe of many pregnant and breastfeeding women, you need to keep your caffeine intake below 200 mg as per the recommendations by most doctors.
This is because caffeine intake higher than that has been linked to pre-term births and low birth weight among other issues. During breastfeeding, caffeine intake also caused jitters and sleeplessness in babies.
Their little bodies can’t process it like ours do and during pregnancy, women’s bodies ability to process caffeine is hampered.
So chat to your doctor about drinking decaf if you enjoy coffee and what the limit is for coffee.
I believe one or two cups of coffee is the limit, but some coffees contain way more than 100-200mg of caffeine. If you’re having coffee at a coffee shop, the chances are high that you’re getting a higher dose than what’s in a home-made filter coffee or instant coffee, provided you don’t like strong coffee.
You’re on Certain Medications
Because caffeine and even decaf coffee can raise your blood pressure, you may be advised by your doctor to cut out coffee if you are on medications that raise your blood pressure.
Some medications also affect your nervous system and gut which, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine is not good. Adding more caffeine to the mix is a no-no. But even if you aren’t sensitive to caffeine, the caffeine-like effects of some medications can cause the same symptoms as if you are if you drink coffee.
In some cases, the meds and caffeine just don’t mix at all. If your doc says no coffee, this is not the time to “stick it to the man” and drink it on the sly.
These meds include:
- Fat burners
- Ephedrine (which is found in decongestants for sinus issues among
- Some herbal medications like echinacea
- Some cold and flu medications
- Medication for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), in particular, theophylline
You Have a High Risk of Fracture or Osteoporosis and You’re Female
Results have been somewhat inconclusive either way with many studies showing different outcomes.
But the results do lean more towards women who drink a lot of coffee, more than 4 cups a day, have a slightly higher risk of lower bone density than women who drink less than 4 cups per day.
If you already have a high risk of breaking a bone, it may be best to chat to your doctor about drinking coffee. A 2017 review of multiple studies on coffee consumption and health found that this risk to bone health only occurs in women and particularly in those already at risk.
Chat to your doctor if you have any concerns.
The Health Benefits of Coffee
Now, that we got that out of the way, onto the good stuff. Despite being demonised in some circles, coffee is actually quite a healthy beverage. As long as you don’t overdo it (up to 4 cups a day is fine), and you don’t have any of the above-mentioned reasons to avoid it, coffee is good for you.
A caveat to this would be if you’re replacing all your water intake with coffee. We still need to drink pure water throughout the day.
Coffee is Full of Antioxidants
Coffee has one of the highest antioxidant ratings, and according to this study, beats both tea and cocoa. It’s these same antioxidants that are responsible for some of the many health benefits of coffee.
In particular, they tested soluble coffee, which would be instant coffee, but I’m sure these benefits extend to brewed coffee as well.
Coffee Lowers the Risk of All Cause Mortality
This pretty much describes all the benefits of coffee in one go. All cause mortality is defined as any cause of death in the population.
I don’t think this benefit pertains more to those causes related to disease. I mean sure, maybe if you’re more alert, you aren’t going to accidentally walk into traffic or something. And sure, I know I’m calmer and happier after a cup of coffee, maybe that counts for people who fly into murderous rages too…
In this meta-analysis of various studies done on coffee, it was found that coffee reduces the risk of various types of diseases. Most of this extends even to decaf coffee.
Coffee Lowers the Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
Now, again this is going to cover multiple health issues in one go.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of health conditions, namely:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- High triglyceride levels
- High blood sugar levels
- Excessive waist circumference
Studies indicate that coffee reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome by 9%. That seems small, but hey, given that just a 5-10% weight loss can beneficially affect the levels of all the conditions that make up metabolic syndrome, it doesn’t seem to shabby does it?
Coffee Intake Lowers Cancer Risk
Coffee may lower the risk of cancer in people, especially those with a higher intake. This doesn’t mean you should go crazy with the coffee, up to 4 cups a day is still a good amount.
It’s not a huge risk reduction, but still, I’ll take any reduction I can get. It equates to about 2-3% per cup and goes for both regular and decaf coffee.
The cancer-risk reducing benefits also don’t apply to smokers. Sorry guys, just best to give up the habit… smoking that is, not drinking coffee.
In fact, smokers should be aware that drinking a high amount of coffee has the opposite effect for lung cancer though as mentioned in this study. Too much of a good thing really can be bad.
Coffee Decreases the Risk of Heart Disease
Drinking just 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke.
Not just that, but it reduces the risk of dying from these diseases by 19%, 16%, and 30% respectively. Yes please!
Again, this isn’t the case for smokers. But unlike with lung cancer, drinking coffee while continuing to smoke will not increase your risk of the various forms of heart disease.
Coffee Reduces the Risk of Liver Disease
Coffee may benefit the health of your liver. And no, it’s not just heavy drinkers and those who make other questionable life choices (you know what I mean) that have a risk of poor liver health.
It also lowers the risk of liver fibrosis (27%) and cirrhosis (39%). This reduction in risk is significant, at least to me.
A Few More Honourable Mentions
Coffee also lowers the risk for:
- Renal Stones
- Parkinson’s Disease
I am more adamant than ever that no one will take away my coffee :p
If it’s safe for you to enjoy coffee, do so. As long as you still drink water as well, you will be fine. And as we saw, coffee has health benefits.
Keep the cream, sugar, and syrups to a minimum, though. The healthiest way to enjoy a cup of coffee is black, without any sugar. This is because milk decreases the antioxidant bioavailability, meaning, your can’t absorb and use as much of the antioxidants as it would without the milk.
But still. Coffee, even with milk, is still way healthier than sodas, most alcoholic beverages, cordials, and yes, even fruit juice.
So enjoy your coffee.
Feature image by Meine Reise geht hier leider zu Ende. Märchen beginnen mit from Pixabay