Is coffee good or bad for you?

December 22, 2015 0 Comments

Is coffee good or bad for you?

I have to confess that I have a love/hate relationship with coffee and have often tried to give it up. When I'm over stressed with deadlines, and looking after our son on my own when my husband is away, drinking coffee actually does the opposite of what I want it to. Rather than giving me the desperately needed boost of energy I need, I get anxious, tired and so run down. Why? Because coffee attributes to adrenal fatigue due to how it all works. It's not all bad news. I mean it's clearly working for the guy in the picture. There have been lots of amazing studies that support the drinking of coffee, but as always, it's not all black and white and sometimes you just have to listen to what your body is telling you. I often have the odd week or two off coffee and feel better for it.

Here are my top five coffee pros and cons to help you get more informed about your caffeine consumption. Let's start with the bad news first.


1. Anxiety - Anxiety and irritability are signature mood disturbances associated with caffeine consumption, but equally important are depression and attention disorders. You may be more prone to depression as part of the letdown after the stimulant effects of caffeine wear off. But what about increased brain activity, perkiness and productivity you get after drinking your latte? This is very short lived because caffeine actually decreases blood flow to the brain by as much as 30% and negatively affects memory and mental performance.

2. Stress - this one gets me every time. Caffeine stimulates the excretion of stress hormones like my arch nemesis cortisol, which can produce increased levels of anxiety (tick), irritability (tick), muscular tension and pain (tick), indigestion, insomnia (tick) and decreased immunity (get sick as soon as the wind blows). The funny thing about raised stress levels is that it also stops your body from dealing with stress properly, meaning you get even more stressed than normal.

3. Cardiovascular Problems - because caffeine increases your heart rate, and elevates blood pressure, your daily ritual can contribute to the development of heart disease. If you're a decaf drinker, you're not off the hook because drinking both decaf and regular coffee may increase cholesterol and homocysteine, the biochemical that science has linked to increased risk for heart attack.

4. Nutritional Deficiencies - Not many people know this, but caffeine actually inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and trace minerals.

5. Adrenal Exhaustion - Caffeine consumption leads to eventual adrenal exhaustion, which can leave you vulnerable to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue.

And for the good news...


1. You're a happier and more productive person - It's a proven, tried and tested fact, that even in relatively low doses of 100 milligrams caffeine makes people more alert. At 200 milligrams people report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability. Research also shows that if 3-9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is consumed one hour prior to exercise it increases endurance.

2. Caffeine can make you live longer - a recent study found people drinking 1.1 to 3 cups, and 3.1 to 5 cups, had slightly (9 percent and 7 percent) lower risks of premature death. The thing with studies however is that you can swing the results to support almost any idea you want so always take research like this with a grain of salt and look at the bigger picture.

3. Antioxidants - the antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilise free radicals and stop them from doing damage. If a free radical is formed in a cell and nothing is done, it can damage the DNA of the cell. This helps with fighting those signs of aging.

4. Disease Prevention- caffeine keeps the dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Harvard researchers have found that men who drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day are half as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as those who refrain from consuming caffeinated beverages.

5. Asthma Relief - drinking a moderate amount (moderate being the operative word here) of caffeine can help if you're suffering from asthma. Caffeine from coffee may be used to prevent an asthma attack in emergency cases, but is not intended to replace medication.

Adapted from Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug by Stephen Cherniske.

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