There's a lot of misinformation circulating around regarding coffee and overall health.
Unfortunately, too many unsubstantiated claims make it difficult to distinguish between the myths and the truth about what really happens to our bodies when we drink coffee.
There isn't a central repository of information about the links between coffee and health. We plan to change that with the information provided in this article.
This ultimate guide showing the correlations between coffee intake and personal health will review several lifestyle and health topics.
We'll use some of the latest peer-reviewed data and information to help you live a healthier, more well-balanced life.
We'll focus on areas such as:
- How coffee can affect our sleep
- Why cancer warning are not necessary for coffee
- How much coffee can be safely consumed during pregnancy
- If Bulletproof Coffee really is healthier than other coffee products on the market today
Research is the basis of this article, but it shouldn't be viewed as the one and only resource for this kind of information. We're not doctors, and we don't have medical degrees.
You should consult your primary physician if you have serious questions or concerns about coffee intake and your health.
Time to get into the facts about the matter.
What does government research say about coffee?
The Dietary Guidelines for America are published every five years by our government.
The most recent edition in 2015 was the first publication that actually included guidelines for coffee consumption. The news for coffee enthusiasts is encouraging.
The guidelines state that "strong and consistent evidence shows that the consumption of coffee within moderate range (3 to 5 cups/d or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with increased risk of major chronic diseasees, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer and premature death in healthy adults."
The publication states that moderate coffee intake can also be integrated into a healthy diet regimen. The U.S. government has defined non-harmful coffee consumption levels as up to three to five eight-ounce glasses of coffee per day.
That tells us that coffee for the most part is okay. Now it's time to delve deeper into the main reasons that attract people to coffee.
How does caffeine consumption affect sleeping patterns?
Caffeine has been a world favorite for centuries.
Over 80 percent of all caffeine consumption in the United States is from coffee. We all eventually reach a point where we've had too much coffee, just like many other things.
We'll review the effects of coffee on the body so that you can make educated decisions about the amount of coffee that is right for you.
How caffeine is absorbed and processed in the body:
Most of our bodies are able to fully process caffeine after about 45 minutes.
Caffeine has an average half life of about four to six hours. This can vary according to genetics, health and age. In other words, your body has processed half of the caffeine that was consumed during that four to six hour window of time.
Caffeine improves our dopamine or feel-good) system. It also affects other bodily functions, including our sleep patterns.
Adenosine is a chemical compound that our bodies create according to our own internal clocks, also known as our circadian rhythm.
As adenosine links itself to receptors in our brains, our bodies are preparing for rest. Molecules of caffeine can bond to those same brain receptors and prevent adenosine from making us feel tired.
When this happens, we usually don't feel as tired as we should, even though our bodies need a good night's sleep every night.
Ideal times for coffee consumption
Steven L. Miller,a neuroscientist, states there are only a few hours of the day in which our bodies actually use caffeine at its peak efficiency.
Our bodies produce cortisol during the majority of the day. Cortisol is a hormone that keeps us alert and active by regulating our internal clocks.
Caffeine doesn't really have much effect when our cortisone levels are high. If you do feel a boost, it's probably due to the cortisol that your body creates naturally. Our bodies eventually start to build tolerances, even if they aren't receiving the maximum advantage.
To improve your body's energy efficiency as it's returning to normal from an increase in cortisol, caffeine is most effective during the following time frames:
Between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM and between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM
Caffeine is more apt to increase your energy during these times. You''ll be less likely to experience the post-lunch or mid-afternoon natural lows.
When not to drink coffee
There's nothing wroing with caffeine intake during the times when your body's cortisol creation is at maximum.
Our bodies tend to build tolerance for caffeine even when it doesn't raise our energy levels. That's why Miller strongly suggests abstaining from coffee consumption during the following times:
Between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM, between 12:00 noon and 1:00 PM and between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM
Drinking coffee after dinner or later on in the evening can affect our bodies negatively. One study's research indicates that consuming coffee for an entire six hours before bed can negate the positive effects of an hour's worth of quality rest.
If you think that coffee doesn't keep people awake, you may be incorrect. Researchers noted in the same study that only a few test subjects reported having a loss of quality sleep. However, when tests were run, every test subject was recorded as having less quality sleep when testing was conducted overnight.
It seems like we can't measure our quality sleep accurately by ourselves.
Common coffee complaints
Caffeine has several positive effects on our bodies (which we'll discuss in greater detail later on in this article). It also has some negative effects.
Most of these negatives can be avoided by taking proactive measures. We'll discuss how to keep these negative effects at bay.
Why does my stomach feel bad after drinking coffee?
Some people tend to experience stomach discomfort as soon as they've consumed a cuo of coffee.
Many people believe that such unpleasantness is due to an excess amount of acid in the coffee that they drank. As it turns out, this theory is only half right.
Coffee does increase the acid levels in our stomachs. This has been a proven fact for quite some time. What many people don't know is that the caffeine, and not the coffee, is directly responsible for the acid increase.
Most of us are not overly sensitive to acid. It is rather rare, but it has been known to happen.
Upset stomachs are usually caused by having an empty stomach. In an empty stomach, the additional acids that have accumulated have nothing to work on.
Most of these stomach pains can be resolved by not drinking coffee on either a near-empty or completely empty stomach.
Does coffee cause indigestion or acid reflux?
The vast majority of people, including doctors, believe that this additional acid in our stomachs can lead to indigestion, acid reflux, stomach acids and other gastrointestinal issues.
Some research has supported this, while other research shows no link between coffee and these types of problems.
We won't say that coffee directly causes acid reflux or acid indigestion. All that we know for certain is that the link between gastrointestinal disorders and coffee intake is not scientifically proven at this point.
Does coffee cause anxiety?
For all the positive mental benefits that caffeine provides, there's also one significant negative: heightened anxiety.
Have you ever experienced one or more of these issues?
- Increased irritability
- Sudden palpitations
- Twitching muscles
Many coffee drinkers usually say that they feel less irritated after drinking coffee.
However, that's not the same for everyone. Some people experience temporary symptoms that are very similar to anxiety neurosis after consuming larger amounts of caffeine.
Baristas, among other busy professionals, frequently experience issues. Coffee helps them cope with their job responsibilities.
They toss and turn at night, unable to sleep for very long. They arrive at work early the next day, drinking coffee throughout the day to compensate from their lack of quality sleep the night before.
If you've been stuck in this kind of pattern, you may be experiencing anxiety. You might not even realize it. To improve your situation, try to vary your routine a bit.
Reduce your daily coffee intake for a few days or weeks and watch what happens.
Is decaffeinated coffee harmful?
Trichloroethylene, one of the chemicals used in decaffeinating coffee, was officially listed as a "cancer alert" by the National Cancer Institute in the 1970's.
This made more and more people stray from decaffeinated coffee. Modern decaffeination procedures aren't nearly as concerning.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ethyl acetate, one of the primary chemicals used in today's decaffeination methods. Ethyl acetate can be dangerous to humans when consumed in large quantities.
According to the regulation, "(c) In coffee as a residue from its use as a solvent in the extraction of caffeine from green coffee beans, at a level not to exceed 10 parts per million (0.001 percent) in decaffeinated roasted coffee and in decaffeinated soluble coffee extract (instant coffee)."
The FDA determined in 1998 that any trace amounts contained in decaffeinated coffee were so minimal that they would not pose a serious health risk to anyone.
Decaffeinated coffee that is created using the Swiss Water and CO2 techniques don't contain any chemical solvents, so there's no health risks in these procedures.
These methods are commonly preferred by coffee enthusiasts because they maintain the natural flavors in coffee.
Just because a coffee is decaffeinated doesn't necessarily mean that it's entirely free of caffeine. Up to 3 percent of caffeine is allowed to in decaffeinated coffee, according to FDA guidelines.
This means that there's usually around anywhere from 3 to 20 milligrams of caffeine in every cup of decaffeinated coffee.
Does coffee dehydrate our bodies?
People believed for many years that coffee can dehydrate the body.
The idea goes all the way back to a book published in the 1920's that discussed the issue of increased urination due to coffee intake.
New research has confirmed that coffee does NOT dehydrate us.
This logic isn't earth-shaking, especially when you remember that 98 percent of coffee's composition is water.
The correlation between coffee and cancer
There are ton of stories and rumors regarding about coffee and cancer.
A lot of resesarch has been conducted on this topic. The findings on this subject are rather complicated, but most experts agree that decreased risks of specific types of cancer can be linked to certain types of coffee.
Unfortunately, all of the current scientific doesn't stop the judiciary system from making their own decisions about the issue. A judge in California declared on March 29, 2018 that any coffee products sold in that state must include a cancer warning.
Let's delve deeper into this topic to confirm the facs and dispel a lot of common myths that still exist.
Are warning labels on coffee products necessary?
Warning labels on all coffee products were mandated in the state of California on March 29, 2018.
The court case had been actively debated since 2010. It appears now that this ruling can be rightfully enforced.
The reasoning behind this law is due to a chemical compound called acrylamide. I'ts a chemical that is created when coffee is roasted. Let's examine this in greater detail before you decide to stop drinking coffee altogether.
Acrylamide has been known to cause cancer in mice and rats. Even though this chemical hasn't been scientifically proven to cause cancer in humans, the page dedicated to acrylamide on the www.cancer.gov website notes that "a large number of epidemiologic studies in humans have found no consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide exposure is associated with the risk of any type of cancer."
The American Institute for Cancer Research has also issued their findings on the matter. In an article written by Dr. Edward Giovannucci, he states that "on a 'cancer worry' scale from 0 to 10, coffee should solidly be at 0 and smoking at 10; they should not have similar warning labels.
Those who like drinking coffee should have no concerns.
The FDA, World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all seem to agree that coffee is safe.
These three major health organizations have not found any type of long term cancer risks associated with coffee consumption.
Coffee manufacturers around the world have been dumbfounded by the recent ruling in California. Several of them have filed appeals in the hopes that this ruling will not be enacted into law.
You can read more information about California''s Proposition 65 on the websites of the National Coffee Association and the Specialty Coffee Association.
Can coffee lower a person's cancer risks?
Let's switch gears and discuss a more enjoyable topic.
There is a distinct correlation between coffee intake and reduced risks of developing certain types of cancer. The WHO issued a report in 2016 stating that coffee is neither a cancer-causing substance nor a carcinogenic cause.
Now it's time to discuss the specific types of cancer that coffee can help to reduce in the human body:
Colorectal cancer: One study conducted in Japan revealed that people who drank coffee were less likely to contract colorectal cancer. This research confirmed the same conclusions that were derived from other similar Western studies.
Liver cancer: The same study showed that people who drink two cups of coffee daily were associated with a risk of liver cancer that was reduced by 43 percent.
Kidney cancer: Moderate coffee intake has also been linked with lower risks of developing kidney cancer.
Melanoma: Research on coffee and melanoma hasn't been quite as definitive as the studies conducted on other types of cancer. However, the study does state that people who consume coffee regularly are more likely to have lower risks of melanoma.
Esophageal and oral cancers: The study also stated that "inversive trends were insignificant." This seems to indicate that coffee intake is associated with reduced risks of developing these specific types of cancer.
Bladder and pancreatic cancers: The study did not prove any kind of risk factors for pancreatic or bladder cancers. For people ages 65 and older, coffee intake was linked with reduced risks of contracting such forms of cancer.
Coffee has been proven to increase risks for developing some forms of cancer, including lower urinary tract and ovarian cancer. In each of these studies, researchers have noted that more information needs to be gathered before the data can be deemed conclusive.
All in all, the association between coffee and reduced cancer risks seems positive.
The link between coffee and diabetes
According to information accumulated across nine different studies on the subject, scientists have stated that drinking more than two cups of coffee per day can lead to a lesser risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This information holds for both decaffeinated and regular coffee, even though we're not exactly sure of the reason for this just yet.
The Institute Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) states that "epidemiological studies suggest that drinking 3-4 cups of coffee per day is associated with an approximate 25% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to consuming none or less than 2 cups per day. Research also suggests a dose response relationship."
This information is encouraging, even though we're not exactly sure why.
Coffee's in relation to heart health
Cardiovascular disease (or CVD) includes several ailments related to blood circulation and our hearts. Coronary heart disease, heart attacks, hypertension and strokes are some of the more common maladies.
The American Heart Association conducted 36 studies to evaluate the link between coffee consumption and CVD.
Afterwards, they determined that drinking three to five cups of coffee per day was associated with a lowered risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The ISIC also conducted their own research, and issued the following statements:
- Consuming two cups of coffee per day can be associated with a 17% reduced risk of strokes.
- There is no direct correlation between hypertension and regular coffee intake.
- Serum cholesterol levels don't increase due to drinking filtered coffee.
- Non-filtered cholesterol can raise our bodies' triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels slightly.
- Drinking three or more cups of coffee daily can be linked to a 21% lesser risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
All of this information is positive, except for one thing: if you already have high blood pressure, you should probably avoid drinking coffee made from french presses and other brewing devices that don't use filters.
Does coffee help improve people's workout performances?
Coffee can also help to enhance people's stamina and endurance during their workouts. This is true for exercise enthusiasts of all interests and skill levels.
Research conducted by the European Food Safety Authority states that "there is an association between caffeine consumption and an increase in endurance performance, endurance capacity and a reduction in the rated perceived effort or exertion during exercise."
People commonly thought that they had to stay away from drinking coffee before competitions or participating in other major athletic events for days or weeks at a time, so that they could perform better.
This theory has been proven to be invalid. Coffee can provide a necessary jolt of energy for coffee newbies and regular coffee drinkers.
Can coffee help a person lose weight?
Moderate coffee intake can also help people lose weight. However, there's a bit more to it than just that.
Studies have shown that people who consume medium to high levels of coffee regularly and have an active weight management system are more likely to lose weight at a faster rate than those who drink little to no coffee.
Drinking more coffee doesn't mean that you'll automatically lose more weight. You also need to have a proper diet and follow other appropriate weight loss methods
Here's how it works in a nutshell: the caffeine found in coffee works with our body's nervous system. It also encourages our bodies to create low doses of adrenaline.
These components then transmit signals to your body, instructing it to disintegrate fats that are then integrated into the blood stream. Coffee can also increase metabolism rates between three to 11 percent. The rate will vary according to how much coffee is consumed; The rise in metabolism will then help your body convert those fats into energy.
Weight loss has less of an effect on people who are obese and as we get older. Drinking more coffee won't really help much if you're already dealing with these types of issues.
However, the benefits of coffee consumption can be felt once additional weight has been lost.
Are cream and sugar unhealthy?
There's a lot of definitive science on this issue, so we won't spend a lot of time covering it.
Black coffee contains fewer than five calories per cup. For every 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of sugar that is added, 16 calories (and other potential health risks) are also added.
Each ounce of half-and-half that is added to a cup of coffee adds another 37 calories. Most commercial creamer products have ten or more grams of sugar for every serving.
Cream and sugar are okay, as long as they're used in moderation. You can also skip the other health concerns by ditching the sweeteners and drinking black coffee as is.
Bulletproof Coffee: science or fad?
Bulletproof Coffee has been mentioned in many popular health publications and websites in recent years.
Dave Asprey is the face of this company and movement. Some have loudly criticized his concoction while others gladly sing its praises.
Bulletproof Coffee's claims:
Bulletproof coffee contains serveral ingredients that most of us probably would have never thought about adding.
Their coffee is rather pleasant, and is remarkably simiilar to many of the foam-topped lattes that you can find at your local coffee shop.
The ingredients are:
- Black coffee
- Grass-fed unsalted butter, and
- Brain Octane oil
The company states that this mixture can
Less appetite: It claims to keep you feeling full until lunch time. It also states that it helps you avoid eating breakfast cereal and other foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates.
More energy: The butter's saturated fat is said to delay caffeine absorption in the body. It also claims to provide a longer, more sustainable boost of energy.
Improved mental focus: The Brain Octane oil in Bulletproof Coffee is converted into ketones. Ketones are used more effectively than carbohydrates or sugar.
Asprey states that not all coffee products can help people achieve these kinds of health benefits. They can only be accomplished by consuming coffee made from beans that are grown from coffee farms at high elevation. These beans have very rigid standards for mold growth and mycotoxins.
It's time to evaluate Asprey's claims regarding these coffee beans in greater detail. He states that the majority of coffee is made from beans that have enough mycotoxin to keep our brains performing at expected levels and to create health issues.
Let's see what research has to say about these claims.
Mycotoxins: Is my coffee deadly?
Mycotoxins can be found in many processed and non-processed foods.
They are created by fungal growth. Mycotoxins can be hazardous to humans when consumed in large quantities.
Asprey held his own study on mycotoxins. In the study, half of the participants drank regular coffee from local coffee shops and the other half consumed Asprey's mcyotoxin-free coffee over the course of six weeks.
He concurred that the participants who did better in the study were the ones who consumed Bullet Coffee. Unfortunately, the "statistical validity" of his data is unconfirmed, because his findings were never published in scientific journals or reviewed by any of his peers.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other studies on the subject that have been published and peer reviewed. One such study from the 1980's dismisses the concern over mycotoxins.
It stated that "because of the extremely low frequency of findings, the low levels of toxins, and the experimental data showing 70-80% destruction by the roasting process of toxin added to green coffee, further study on this topic has been discontinued."
Another study conducted in 2015 agreed with these findings. University of Spain in Valencia researchers found that as much of 93 percent of all coffee sampled from across the globe contained at least some mycotoxins.
They concluded that "risk assessment indicates that coffee consumption in regards to mycotoxin exposure."
The vast majority of mycotoxins are lost during the coffee roasting process. Studies have found that roasting coffee reduces mycotoxin levels between 50 to 98 percent.
Mycotoxins are all around us. They're in vegetables, peanuts, grain, chocolate, tea and coffee. They're probably in the air we breathe and in the buildings where we live and work.
Citing coffee as a primary source of these mycotoxins instead of all other possible sources is discriminatory in the eyes of coffee professionals, and primarily due to marketing tactics.
Natural coffee processing methods will typically generate more mold growth than using the washed method to create coffee.
This also creates coffee flavors that are so bad that coffee companies prefer not to purchase them. That means that you don't have to avoid buying coffee that is naturally processed if you're already buying specialty coffee beans.
There's no cause to be alarmed about consuming too many mycotoxins in your coffee.
Are the other health claims valid?
Bulletproof Coffee seems beneficial, but Asprey's claims are widely criticized by health professionals for being based on bad science and unproven.
In both of Asprey's primary studies where he claimed that his coffee could help people lose weight and lessen inflammation, his results were based on tests that were conducted on mice and rates instead of humans.
The study that states "switching from refined grains to whole grains causes zinc deficiency" is from a research project report on two test subjects in 1976. Another one of his claims that says "diets high in grain fibre deplete vitamin D stores" was taken from a study of 13 people 30 years ago.
The statements suggesting that minor increases in overall fat consumption can be beneficial and that people should reduce their carbohydrate and sugar intakes have some merit.
Bulletproof Coffee could help those who are looking to maintain a diet that is high in fats and low in carbohydrates.
We'll end the discussion here, because we're only concerned about the claims made against coffee itself. If you want to learn more, you can always research the other health-related statements yourself.
Which one is better: organic or non-organic coffee?
There are some very inflexible rules for farms who opt to grow certified organic coffee:
1. Coffee can't be grown from genetic engineering, ionized radiation, sewage sludge or other banned resources or methods.
2. All production must be supervised by a certifying agent authorized under the USDA's National Organic Program.
Even with these guidelines, growers can still use certain fertilizers and pesticides in the production of their coffee.
Some of these chemicals are created in laboratories, but the majority of them are naturally made. Coffee can be produced with the aid of chemicals.
The point is that these chemicals have been proven to be safe for humans to consume.
Is organic coffee healthier than non-organic coffee?
University of Michigan-Dearborn ecologist Julia Craves stated in a column written for the Specialty Coffee Association that "pesticide residue on foods is a major concern to consumers, but some recent work has determined that organic foods may not be any safer than conventional foods.
This is true for coffee, where little or no chemical residue is likely to remain once the beens have been removed from the fruit (the part exposed to pesticides), dried and hulled, roasted at very high temperatures, ground, then brewed in water."
She goes on to say that organic farming does have its advantages. These benefits are specifically at the the farm level where the people living downstream from such coffee farms and the surrounding environment would be less likely to experience serious side effects from chemical runoff. Buying organic coffee can help maintain sustainable farming.
However, it doesn't seem to really make much of an impact on our health.
How much coffee is safe during pregnancy?
This is another sensitive subject without a clear answer. There is still much to be determined.
Pregnancy is one of the most complicated process that human bodies can endure. It''s no wonder that there's still a lot of conflicting theories about this topic. We still know a few things about the matter, though.
Low amounts of coffee consumption should be just fine. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) states that reproductive or perinatal problems should not occur in pregnant women who drink 200 milligrams of coffee or less per day.
There is no direct link between infertility and coffee. The EFSA also says in the same report that there is no correlation between preterm labor, lowered infertility or fetal death and average coffee intake.
Large amounts of coffee consumption can sometimes cause stillbirths in monkeys. Monkeys that have drank 8 or more cups of caffeine per day have higher rates of stillbirths.
Researchers strongly recommend abstaining from high levels of daily coffee consumption, even though such research is inconclusive and similar tests have not been run on humans yet.
Higher risks of congenital disformity are not linked with drinking four cups of coffee per day.
One study determined that women who drank four cups of coffee experienced the same rate of congenital malformation as pregnant women who drank no coffee during that time.
Pregnant women should be able to drink a cup or two of coffee per day without incident. However, it might be best to stop drinking coffee once your pregnancy has been confirmed by a doctor.
Newborn infants can begin to develop withdrawal symptoms in the first week outside the womb, even if their mothers drank very small amounts of coffee during their pregnancies.
Four more minor health perks:
We'll use the last portion of this article to discuss some other advantages of coffee consumption that don't require their own individual sections.
1. Alzheimer's Disease: Some research has shown that drinking coffee in moderation can either reduce the effects of Alzheimer's Disease or lower people's risk of developing Alzheimer's. Additional research still needs to be done, as these results are not yet conclusive.
2. Bone health: Scidentists are still studying the correlations between bone density and coffee consumption. While there is no direct link, a few studies seem to show that there is at least a minor connection may exist.
3. Liver disease: Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day has shown to lessen the chances of people dexperiencing chronic liver disease, fibrosis and certain forms of cancer.
4. Parkinson's Disease: There is some research indicating that coffee intake can be correlated with somewhat less risk of developing Parkinson's Disease. These results have yet to be officially proven, and more research is still being conducted.
There are many health benefits that coffee can provide. We've just discussed some of the more notable ones in this article.
We would love to hear your input on this guide. Send us an email with any questions, comments, concerns or objections that you may have.