Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the US. People drink coffee several times a day citing the reason that it makes them stay alert and focused. And yes! It does. The effect is due to the stimulant, caffeine.
Generally, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine in a day is considered safe for most adults. This comes to around four cups of coffee (1 cup= 8 ounces). Problems due to coffee intake arise when people become addicted to it, crossing the limit.
The negative effects of excessive coffee intake on the body include:
- Increase in blood pressure
- Increased anxiety levels
- Muscle tremors (feeling shaky)
- Insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)
- Pounding heart or missed beats
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Frequent trips to the washroom
- Increased bone loss in postmenopausal women (if diets lack enough intake of calcium)
- Increased cholesterol levels (due to unfiltered, unboiled coffee)
These effects can occur in some caffeine-sensitive people even if they drink only two to four cups of coffee a day.
Women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or are breastfeeding need to limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg/day. Many gynecologists believe that coffee intake in pregnancy must be completely stopped. Also, people who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux should either consume coffee in very little quantities or avoid it completely.
Since coffee increases your alertness, it should be avoided at least 4 to 6 hours before going to bed.
If you are on medications, please ask your doctor if any of these medications interact with coffee. Some drugs, such as ephedrine (used in decongestants), are known to increase your blood pressure and the risk of getting stroke if taken along with coffee.
What are the health benefits of drinking coffee?
While past studies have pointed out at the negative side of coffee, recent studies hint at its potential health benefits. The benefits are thought to be due to the antioxidants or anti-inflammatory agents present in coffee. These agents have been implicated in exerting disease-preventing effects on your body.
A daily cup of coffee may protect you against a host of problems, including:
- Parkinson's disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart attack
- Liver disease (including liver cancer)
- Obesity (especially increased total body fat percentage)
You can even make use of your daily cup of coffee to make healthier choices. Coffee consumed with fat-free, low-fat milk or fortified soy beverage is one way to increase your daily calcium and vitamin D intake.
How can you break the coffee addiction?
With so many healthy reasons for consuming coffee, it does not sound wise to stop coffee completely. It is an addiction to that cup of joe that is the trouble maker. Here, addiction means you cannot stop yourself from consuming more than four cups in a day. And when that happens, it is time to take action to break the addiction. Here is what you can do:
Reduce the amount of coffee you consume in a day slowly. For example, instead of eight cups, take six cups first for a few days, then gradually shift to four cups a day. Do not stop drinking coffee all at once. Abrupt cessation of coffee in habitual coffee-drinkers might cause withdrawal symptoms, such as severe headache and restlessness.
Choose water as a substitute.
If your hand reaches out to the fifth cup of coffee, drink water instead. Water also naturally flushes caffeine from your body and prevents dehydration from coffee.
Switch to decaf.
Decaffeinated (decaf) coffee is the caffeine-free form of coffee. Try alternating between caffeinated coffee and decaf coffee throughout the day for over 2 to 3 weeks. You can then switch to decaf completely by gradually cutting caffeinated coffee. Such a stepwise reduction will help you successfully change your habit without causing withdrawal symptoms.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Does coffee offer health benefits? Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339
Regular coffee consumption is associated with lower body fat among US women. Available at: https://nutrition.org/coffee-consumption/
Benefits of Coffee. Available at: https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/benefits-of-coffee