Coffee can be a very healthy addition to your diet. It contains caffeine which can boost your metabolism, mood, and physical and mental performance. As long as you consume caffeine in moderation, it is usually considered to be very safe. If you consume caffeine in high doses, however, or you have certain pre-existing health conditions, it can have certain side effects which can be unpleasant and potentially even harmful. Everyone has a different reaction to caffeine so it is important to see how much you are comfortable drinking and not consume too much.
To help everyone understand some potential negatives of caffeine, here are four ways that drinking coffee may be bad for you.
1. It Can Cause Anxiety
Caffeine is excellent for raising alertness and it does this by blocking the effects of a chemical called adenosine which is responsible for feelings of tiredness. Caffeine also stimulates adrenaline release, which increases your energy. When you drink too much caffeine, however, these effects may be extreme which can cause major anxiety and hyperactivity. People who consume more than 1,000mg of caffeine a day regularly are at risk of developing caffeine-induced anxiety disorder which can have serious long-term effects.
Even considerably lower caffeine intakes can cause jitters, dry mouth, nervousness, rapid breathing, stress, and other symptoms of anxiety. Be careful with how much caffeine you consume and look out for any of these side effects. For reference, a grande Starbucks coffee contains around 300mg of caffeine so make sure you keep track of how much you are drinking over the course of the day. Anxiety can affect your life in seriously negative ways so make the right changes to stay healthy.
2. It Can Cause Digestive Problems
For a lot of people, that first cup of coffee in the morning is crucial for getting their digestive system up and running. Drinking coffee stimulates the release of a hormone produced in the stomach called gastrin. This hormone accelerates colon activity which is why coffee has a laxative effect, and this is true even for decaffeinated coffee. There are some digestive problems, however, which can be caused by caffeine specifically. Caffeine can increase both the strength and frequency of peristalsis, which is the name given to the contractions that push food through your digestive system. A lot of caffeine means more contractions and so this can result in loose stools or issues with diarrhea.
Furthermore, caffeine can cause GERD and acid reflux in some people, and this has been found to be a particular issue with caffeine. People with these kinds of problems should try drinking low acid coffee as it can help to prevent these issues. As with the other issues in this guide, if you are experiencing any problems with digestion, look at how much caffeine you are consuming and try to cut down to see if that helps.
3. It Can Cause Sleep Problems
Caffeine is very useful because it can help people to stay alert and awake even when they are tired. This is often necessary because we all live busy lives with work, school, and family responsibilities and so we need an extra little boost to get through the day. A potential negative side effect, however, is that caffeine can lead to insomnia and other sleep problems. Various studies have found that caffeine causes difficulties in both falling asleep and staying asleep.
Part of the problem is that many people don’t realize just how much caffeine they are consuming each day. It is very important to remember that as well as coffee, there is caffeine in tea, chocolate, soda, energy drinks, and certain types of medication. Some energy drinks contain as much as 500mg of caffeine which is a huge amount for one beverage. If you are having trouble sleeping, cut down the amount of caffeine you are consuming and also pay attention to when you are consuming it. Caffeine stays in the system for around five hours so try to make your last coffee or energy drink in the early afternoon.
4. It Can Lead to Addiction
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and like all stimulants, there is a risk that regular use can lead to an addiction. Unlike other stimulants such as illegal drugs which can be expensive and difficult to purchase, caffeine is cheap, socially acceptable, and widely available. This means that it is very easy for a casual coffee drinker to become a habitual coffee drinker and start to experience the health problems outlined in this article. Scientific studies have shown that caffeine stimulates the brain and triggers the production and release of chemicals in exactly the same way as drugs like amphetamines and cocaine.
While caffeine addiction is not comparable to an addiction to hard drugs, any physical or psychological dependency can cause issues. We have all met people who are incredibly irritable when they haven’t had their morning coffee yet, and this is usually laughed off by most people and seen as perfectly normal. Irritability is just one of the withdrawal symptoms, however, and daily caffeine drinkers may also experience fatigue, headaches, and a lack of focus. It is not advisable to be dependent on any substance and if you find that you are “not yourself” when you haven’t had a recent caffeine hit, this is a telltale sign that you may need to make some lifestyle changes. Start out by replacing one caffeinated drink a day with a green tea or similar beverage and slowly try to wean yourself off caffeine altogether.
Coffee is a wonderfully delicious drink, and it can provide serious benefits in terms of productivity and energy levels. Despite these benefits, there are some potential health problems that can arise if you consume too much caffeine. As with all the best things in life, moderation is key when it comes to caffeine intake. Look at how much coffee you are drinking, how much caffeine is in each cup, and the time of the day you are drinking it. If you experience any of the health problems explained in this article, you may want to consider cutting back.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash