If you feel like you can’t start your workday without a cup of coffee first, you’re not alone. According to the National Coffee Association, nearly 62% of adults in the United States begin their day with coffee.
And it makes sense. Standard coffee has caffeine, a central nervous stimulant that can provide an energy boost and increase your alertness and attentiveness. The question is: Is coffee good for you, and is there such a thing as too much coffee?
The good news is that more doctors and studies support drinking coffee than ever before. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that coffee has properties that protect against internal inflammation and disease contraction. Coffee is rich in antioxidants and can even prevent certain medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Below, we explore the positive effects of caffeine and discuss when you may want to consider slowing down your intake.
What Types of Beverages Contain Caffeine?
Caffeine is found naturally in the plants used to make coffee, tea, and chocolate. Supplemental flavorings, such as guarana and yerba mate, contain caffeine as well. Certain energy drinks and snacks may contain artificial caffeine, so check the ingredients if you have a caffeine allergy or intolerance.
What Are the Health Benefits of Coffee?
You Might Live Longer
Studies from Johns Hopkins show that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop some of the leading causes of death, such as: coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Improved Liver Function
Whether you drink regular or decaf coffee, studies show that coffee consumption can decrease the risk of liver disease. Coffee can also reduce fibrosis, liver stiffness, and scar tissue in the liver, improving liver function and health.
Your DNA Will be Stronger
Dark-roast coffee has proven to decrease breakage in DNA strands, which naturally occurs but can sometimes result in various cancers or tumors if not repaired by your cells.
Your Odds of Developing Colon Cancer will Decrease
Statistically, one in 26 women and one in 23 men will develop colon cancer in their lifetime. However, research shows that one or two cups of coffee daily, either decaf or regular, was associated with 26% lower odds of developing colorectal cancer.
What Medicines or Supplements Interact With Caffeine?
Some medicines and herbal supplements have a tendency to interact with caffeine and increase its effects. Knowing which substances caffeine interacts with can lead to positive impacts on your health. Examples of these include:
Ephedrine is most commonly used as a decongestant to treat breathing problems. People also use it to treat low blood pressure, narcolepsy, and menstrual problems. Due to its stimulating properties, health experts at the Mayo Clinic warn against mixing ephedrine and caffeine as it can lead to high blood pressure and even seizures or heart attacks.
Antidiabetic drugs primarily aim to decrease blood sugar in patients who take them, and sometimes coffee can have the opposite effect. Considering coffee can counteract the effects of antidiabetic drugs, diabetic patients who like coffee need to monitor their blood sugar closely.
Medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), and enoxaparin (Lovenox) slow blood clotting to reduce pain. The caffeine in a cup of coffee also slows blood clotting, which can lead to excessive bleeding or bruising when the two are mixed.
Taking birth control pills can slow the rate at which your body breaks down caffeine. Therefore, drinking coffee while taking birth control can lead to excessive jitteriness, headaches, heart palpitations, and other adverse effects.
How Do You Know If You’ve Consumed Too Much Caffeine?
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration states that 400mg of caffeine a day–four or five cups–is a safe amount for healthy adults, but caffeine tolerances vary from person to person. It also asserts that children under the age of 12 should not ingest caffeine unless specifically instructed to by a doctor.
Side effects of excessive caffeine ingestion may include:
- Muscle tremors
- Frequent urination
- Fast heartbeat
- Heart Palpitations
If you are like most adults, coffee or a caffeinated beverage is probably a part of your morning routine. In moderation, these beverages can benefit your health. However, excessive caffeine or interactions with other substances can lead to adverse health effects. If you do need to cut back on your caffeine intake, do so gradually, as withdrawal symptoms may occur. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your daily caffeine intake.