Like most things that we consume as humans, there is a lot of information floating around online and through media about coffee and health (not all of it good).
These are full of negative claims that like to highlight the negative aspects of drinking coffee without highlighting any of the good. For a fun fact; coffee has been studied for many years around the globe, with more than 100,000 studies.
However, bloggers do also love to write about all of the positive aspects of coffee without giving any real concrete evidence to support their claims; all the while leaving out the negative aspects.
That is why I wanted to create this article, to remove some of the vagueness surrounding drinking coffee with concrete evidence and scientific proof.
Keep in mind, however, that I am in no way a doctor or a medical professional. If you have medical-related questions about drinking coffee, you should always consult your doctor who knows your specific situation and dietary needs.
That said, all of the research listed here is backed by reviewed science from a variety of different sources. And not to spoil the end, but the results are looking pretty good.
Coffee and Health: The Positive
Coffee is an ever-changing source of news, with news headlines that announce the health benefits every couple of weeks across publications. Because of this, it isn't surprising to find out that coffee does have many positive benefits to your health. Let's take a deeper look at what these may be.
1. Reduced Risk of Some CancersLet's begin with some good news; back in June of 2016, the World Health Organization released a report that coffee is not a carcinogenic risk. Instead, they found that drinking coffee regularly can prevent certain types of cancers. This coincides with the statement made by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2015 that concluded that coffee consumption was linked to lower risk of certain cancers. However, what cancer types might those be?
2. Reduced Risk of Diabetes
Doctors who regularly study diabetes can agree on one thing whole-heartedly: coffee helps to prevent it. Even though the results of their studies may vary to some degree, the main thing to take away is that coffee is indeed helpful in preventing diabetes, and not causing it.
One interesting study from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota discovered that individuals who consume more than 6 cups of coffee per day are over 20% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
That said, if you are like me, then 6+ cups of coffee per day seems like an excessive amount. But there is a study that uses the same data for 1-3 cups of coffee per day. A study from Harvard has determined that with just one cup of coffee per day, you are 13% less likely to develop diabetes.
These health benefits can be attributed to the number of antioxidants that are found within coffee. These can stabilize free radicals in your body; which is huge considering de-stabilized free radicals can attribute to cancer growth.
3. Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in America. The good news, however, is that drinking coffee is not adding to this issue; studies have shown that it may be helping. According to a Korean study, moderate coffee consumption has been linked to lower rampancy of sub-clinical heart disease.
4. More Effective Workouts
A lot of information has been floating around about how coffee can help to improve your workouts overall.
Some say that it will work to increase your endurance, while others state it helps to burn fat more quickly. Let's look at some concrete evidence to support those claims.
Back in 2015, a study at Cardiff Metropolitan University discovered that individuals who consumed regular amounts of coffee were able to complete more repetitions when lifting weights. Although more research needs to be done to fully be certain if this is from drinking coffee alone, it's interesting to be sure.
An interesting theory on this is that coffee may only increase your endurance and stamina during long workouts, with no benefit to shorter intense workouts or training sessions. For another interesting study, the University of Georgia determined that consuming 2 cups of coffee before working out can reduce muscle pain, soreness, and recovery time by almost 50%.
So what about all of those articles that state coffee helps you to lose weight? Yes, they do indeed seem to be founded on sound evidence. Drinking coffee (at least consuming caffeine) can attribute to more weight loss.
Specifically, to increase your metabolic rate and encourages the fat-loss process.
Coffee and Health: Negative Aspects
Unfortunately, coffee is not just full of positive benefits; there are some negative aspects as well. There are some downsides to this delicious uplifting drink that we all know and love. These are not that bad, especially considering all the benefits that coffee does have for us.
1. Upset Stomach
If you've ever had an upset stomach after drinking coffee, then you know what I'm talking about here. Most coffee drinkers have experienced this at least once in their life; its uncomfortable and can sometimes be downright painful.
There are a few things that have been known to cause an upset stomach after drinking coffee:
- Sensitivity to acid
- Sensitivity to caffeine
- Drinking coffee on an empty stomach (most common)
Coffee can be an intense drink that is full of acid, and if you drink it on an empty stomach this can stir up the acid that is already in your system and make it worse. Try not to drink it on an empty stomach if it can be avoided.
2. Caffeine Anxiety
The sad truth is that coffee can make us anxious, similar to the symptoms of anxiety neurosis; or a panic attack.
A lot of people who experience these issues may not even realize that they are experiencing coffee-induced anxiety. If any of these sound familiar to you, then your coffee may be to blame:
- Muscle spasms
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Heart palpitations (feeling your heartbeat in your extremities)
I remember back when I was a cafe manager and drinking more than 3 cups of coffee a day and working on little sleep, I started to experience muscle spasms and anxiety. It was so bad that I was unable to hold anything still with my arm stretched out.
This can be embarrassing; and in addition to this, I also realized that I was feeling more anxious than what would be considered "normal" for myself. Eventually, I decided it was time to visit my physician. She told me that this is most likely due to too much coffee and not enough sleep.
It was a vicious cycle; I would drink coffee to get through the busy workday, didn't sleep well, and drank more coffee to compensate for the lack of sleep and energy levels. Eventually, the solution that I had to stick to was getting an adequate amount of sleep each night and drinking less coffee.
While I may still drink an excessive amount of coffee some days, I am taking better care of myself and getting better sleep; which has helped.
When we talk about additives, we mean anything that you add to your coffee to make it sweeter and more palatable.
This can include cream and sugar, and this is where you have the opportunity to make coffee less healthy; these full-sugar additives can cancel out the positive benefits of black coffee.
There are a ton of studies that have proven how any amount of sugar is bad for our overall health, but especially in larger quantities.
Just as coffee can reduce the chances of getting some cancers, heart disease, and help in losing weight; the sugar can increase all of these changes. Let's take a look at simple logic:
- If coffee is good, and sugar is bad, then drink coffee without sugar. Problem solved.
- There are a ton of alternatives out there to sweeten your coffee without adding all of the sugar that we tend to.
4. Insomnia or Trouble Sleeping
Coffee (like most sources of caffeine) is great for getting a burst of energy, staying alert, and waking up in the morning.
However, it is not well-suited for when you should be winding down for the night to get some quality sleep.
Some people may argue that coffee doesn't affect their sleep patterns when consumed in the afternoon or evening. Sorry, but that is wrong, and I'll tell you why.
As an avid coffee drinker, I used to drink a cup of coffee around 9 PM and full-heartedly believed that it had no impact on my sleep. Just as an experiment, I stopped drinking coffee around 6 PM. What do you think the result of this experiment was?
I fell asleep faster and slept better; I felt better in every aspect of my day. Some interesting studies were done by the Wayne State College of Medicine in regards to this.
- Coffee damages our ability to fall asleep and also affects the quality of sleep that we have. While we may have already known this, this study, in particular, found that drinking coffee up to 6 hours before bed could reduce our overall sleep cycle by one hour.
- As humans, we are terrible at self-diagnosing out sleep. The interesting thing is that the participants in this study believed that drinking coffee did not affect their sleep. However, the data and statistics couldn't lie; this study indicated that their brainwaves were more active an hour before those who didn't consume coffee 6 hours before bed.
Whether we realize it or not, caffeine does screw with our sleep patterns.
Why not perform your experiment and try cutting out coffee and caffeine 6 hours before bed and see how your life improves.