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Is Coffee Good or Bad for You?

May 20, 2019

Experts have differing opinions when it comes to the health benefits of coffee. On one hand, coffee is rich in antioxidants and may reduce your risk of a number of diseases. But, on the other hand, the caffeine it contains may cause sleep problems in some people. With this conflicting information, one question remains--is coffee good for you? Let's find out.

Essential Nutrients and Antioxidants

A 240 ml cup of coffee contains the following nutrients:

  • Folate
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B5

Additionally, caffeine acts as a stimulant that blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel fatigued. Caffeine also triggers the release of other neurotransmitters, like dopamine, and stimulants like epinephrine and norepinephrine. These chemicals reduce fatigue, giving you the energy to be more active.

Drinking coffee may boost your metabolism by up to 11%. However, the effects are short-term. If you have coffee on a daily basis, your body will gradually build a tolerance to it, and the efficacy will be reduced (Healthline). 

The Benefits of Coffee

Coffee does have some benefits that may surprise you, including:

Reduced Risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are the two most common neurodegenerative diseases. According to research studies, drinking coffee is correlated with a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease by 65% and 60%, respectively.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that drinking coffee is correlated with a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 67%.

Reduced Risk of Liver Diseases

Your liver performs many important functions in your body. Excessive intake of fructose and alcohol may have a negative impact on your liver. The last stage of liver damage is known as cirrhosis and, at this point, your liver turns into scar tissue.

Drinking coffee may reduce your risk of developing cirrhosis by 84%. The effects will be stronger if you have four or more cups of coffee on a daily basis (NCBI). 

Reduced Risk of Depression and Suicide

Depression is a very common mental disorder that can have a serious impact on your quality of life. However, drinking coffee may reduce your risk of depression by 20%.

The Downside of Coffee

Coffee consumption isn't always good for you. Here are a few ways coffee can negatively impact your health:

Anxiety and Disrupted Sleep

Drinking too much coffee may cause heart palpitations, anxiety, jitteriness, and panic attacks. Some people may even experience sleep apnea if they drink coffee too late in the day. A good night's sleep is crucial for every part of your health, and consuming coffee close to bedtime can severely decrease your quality of sleep as well as how much sleep you get.

Caffeine can also increase your blood pressure. However, the effects go away with regular consumption.

Caffeine is Addictive

If you regularly consume caffeine, your body will develop a tolerance to it. As a result, you will need to drink a large amount of it to enjoy the same effects. If you stop drinking coffee, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like irritability, brain fog, exhaustion and headaches for a couple of days.  

Should You Drink Coffee?

If you are pregnant, have insomnia, anxiety or high blood pressure, you might not want to drink coffee (Babycentre). It is also a good idea to avoid anything that can become a dependency or taking anything in excess.

The Bottom Line

The effects of coffee described in this article are based on observational studies. The studies were done to find out the link between different diseases and the consumption of coffee. They don't talk about the "cause and effect" and, as always, correlation does not equal causation, meaning that just because the coffee drinkers were observed to have lower incidences of liver disease does not guarantee that the coffee was the actual cause of better liver health. There could be (and often are) other factors at play. The takeaway from these studies is that coffee taken in moderation may have positive effects on your health.

References

https://www.babycentre.co.uk/x536392/is-it-safe-to-drink-coffee-during-pregnancy

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-increase-metabolism 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16772246