A benefit of coffee is that it is the drink of choice of almost every single home in America, and it’s the #2 beverage across the world.
With that level of notoriety, it’s not uncommon for vast amounts of studies to be done on the health benefits and drawbacks.
Coffee is basically living proof of the old saying, “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.” Drink the right amount, and reap the rewards.
Drink too much or develop a hypersensitivity, and you might want to switch to tea.
Let’s take a look at some of the polarizing benefits and cumbersome drawbacks of having that daily cup of coffee.
Benefits of Coffee on Your Health
Let’s start off on a high note and tell you some of the reasons why you should drink coffee.
Some of these benefits include fighting against diseases and medical diagnoses, as well as inflammation and aching.
It’s essentially the drink of champions, athletes, and overtired college students for a reason.
1. Reduction in Type II Diabetes
Coffee can help fight type II diabetes in more ways than one.
The most beneficial aspect to all the chlorogenic acid in coffee is the way it impacts insulin secretion and increases metabolism to expedite the break down of food.
You could potentially see a reduction of about 30% in glucose levels, meaning your pancreas isn’t working as hard to regulate blood glucose levels.
There are a lot of polarizing articles and studies on the effects of coffee on cardiovascular disease, but it’s important to understand the criteria of those studies.
Researchers from Harvard found that these studies also include a decrease in liver disease and cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular benefits are there but it has different effects on obese adults, people with heart arrhythmia or hypersensitivity to caffeine.
Your pancreas doesn’t have to produce as much insulin when you drink coffee, and it’s also a diuretic which helps you urinate and flush toxins out of your body.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Agents Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Antioxidants exist in every single coffee bean, and they’re the very thing that makes them so fantastic.
Antioxidants are like rocket fuel for your immune system and body, fighting free radicals in the body that are known to cause cancer and various diseases.
If it sounds like something you want to consume more of, good: go for two cups a day to get a ton of antioxidants through the chlorogenic acid in coffee.
For that reason, even though green coffee beans have more chlorogenic acid, they aren’t absorbed properly unless they’re roasted.
If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, Tylenol isn’t helping.
Antioxidants naturally act as an anti-inflammatory agent without the need for artificial ingredients or liver-damaging properties.
Since coffee metabolizes quicker than those stubborn gel caps, you won’t experience the relief for as long, but in our opinion, that’s just an excuse for that one extra cup of coffee if you’re having a rough day with joint pain.
3. Revitalize and Aid Heart Tissue
If you don’t know what p27 protein is, you’re just like we were before researching it.
The P27 protein regulates the cell cycle. The cell cycle is a series of biochemical steps that determine the growth and division of cells.
New, and exciting, research has suggested a new role for caffeine in protecting your heart. Caffeine stimulated the movement of P27 into the energy centers (called mitochondria) in the heart cells. This led to a series of events that protected the heart muscles from damage.
4. Increases Spatial Awareness Through Stimulation
We all know that coffee can make you jittery, but most of us don’t know why.
It’s because it makes you hyper-aware of your surroundings and actually increases your cognitive function.
This effect lasts for a considerable amount of time, ranging from three to five hours.
Since coffee metabolizes from your liver in about forty-five minutes, the caffeine enters your bloodstream for up to approximately nine hours.
During the latter hours, though caffeine is still prevalent in your blood, the cognitive effects have worn down enough not to be noticeably different from your usual state.
Along with that mental stimulation through caffeine, you are also at a lowered risk of suicide/suicidal thoughts, though you have to monitor the effects.
Everyone reacts to coffee a little bit differently, so while the enhanced reaction time and overall spatial awareness have increased, too much coffee could make you irritable.
With the right amount in your system, coffee is a healthy and natural mental stimulant.
5. Fights Against Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s
We drink a lot of coffee around the world, around half-a-trillion cups.
There was a correlation to coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease, so an expert team of researchers dove into the subject, and found that the production of phenylindane in coffee (which are more prevalent in dark roast coffee) prevents certain compounds from “clumping together.”
When these compounds clump together in our bodies, it begins to process of forming Parkinson’s disease, as well as Alzheimer’s.
It’s also apparently the first time that anyone linked phenylindane to the preventing of the proteins that cause these two life-altering diseases.
These breakthroughs also point to other genetic factors to varying diseases and medical issues that are also aided by phenylindane, such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as we mentioned earlier.
6. Helps Break Down Fat Cells
This isn’t new; science has known since the 1980’s that caffeine specifically helps with weight loss. Using caffeine before a workout is able to cut down nearly 25% of your fat cell size over time, and helps in reducing an additional 22% body weight.
Since caffeine is a stimulant that affects your muscles, it is believed that you reach deeper pads of fat during exercise, which helps in breaking them down even faster than your standard workout.
It should also be noted that in the study, they viewed everything over a long time frame, and focused on cardio exercise over strength training.
Resistance and strength training is the main method of working out in today’s modern world, but including cardio and pairing it with caffeine, especially if you’re trying to lose a significant amount of weight, can help you tremendously along that journey.
Think of it like this: if you were working out with a knowledge that you would lose thirty pounds in ninety days, but you were taking caffeine prior to each workout, you could lose up to six additional pounds.
7. Effective in Fighting Cancer
Cancer is the unrestricted growth of cells. The cancer cells form in a very specific way and they can form all over your body.
We all know that there is a vast quantity of different cancer types and causes, and coffee could be helping you to stay cancer-free for as long as humanly possible.
It comes down to the polyphenols (which are also antioxidants) in the beans, which are affected differently depending on the roast and process.
For instance, Swiss water process decaffeinated coffee beans could have the same amount of polyphenols as normal light roast caffeinated coffee, but those used with indirect and direct solvent-based decaffeination processes might have less.
Dark roast has been proven to have a higher amount of polyphenols since the roasting process takes less time.
If you search the Internet then you may come across suggestions, or assertions, that the caffeine in dark roasts could cause cancer (a carcinogen). However, a study has suggested that caffeine in coffee cannot yet be considered carcinogenic.
Other studies have suggested that caffeine may reduce the risk of getting some cancers. For example, coffee consumption was seen to reduce the risk of liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.
Dark roast has more cancer-fighting polyphenols, which help to break the cell cycle process associated with developing multiple types of cancer.
Finally, do you remember the P27 protein we mentioned previously? Well, this protein has also been linked to reducing cancer cell production. In particular, having a low amount of this protein could increase your chance of cancer.
8. Helps You Stay Regular
While it’s an unpleasant topic, drinking coffee does in fact keep you regular.
While caffeinated coffee can stimulate your colon (a muscle), decaf coffee and its metabolic process can also affect your colon: either one can help you stay regular.
Apart from muscle stimulation, coffee’s magic nectar (chlorogenic acid) can stimulate receptors in your stomach that produce acid.
You can basically digest food at a higher rate as a result of drinking coffee, due in part to the boost in your metabolism.
Drawbacks of Coffee on Your Health
Coffee is great and we have already seen some of the benefits of coffee, but there are still some other things to think about.
If it were all sunshine, then we’d be consuming coffee extract like it was the cure to everything.
An issue with coffee, and more specifically caffeine, is that it is possible to suffer from overstimulation. Especially if you have a hypersensitivity to caffeine.
Some of these are situational, but it’s still important to know all of the facts before adding coffee as a staple in your diet for the health benefits.
1. Heightened Blood Pressure
One of the most common things that you’ll read about regarding the negative effects of coffee on your health is blood pressure spikes.
When blood vessels are constricted by caffeine, it means all blood vessels, such as the blood flow to your brain. This may cause a temporary spike in your blood pressure.
Your blood pressure should be a blend of 120 over 80. You can see a chart explaining blood pressure levels and acceptable/ideal ranges here.
High blood pressure can lead to damage to your heart and arteries, increases your risk of stroke and TIA, and even dementia.
However, scientific research suggests that many other components in coffee may have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and that constant coffee consumption does not affect hypertension.
2. Symptoms of Insomnia
We all think that we know what insomnia is, but it has far more symptoms than the loss of sleep.
Insomnia comes with additional concerns, such as fatigue, concentration problems, increased errors in work and personal life, depletion of energy, erratic emotional behavior patterns, frustration, and overall poor performance and cognitive function.
When you look at the broad side of it, there’s a lot that can go wrong.
Insomnia is usually caused by physical pain, or in some cases mental disorders such as anxiety or depression.
If you already have anxiety like 40 million other Americans do, then increased caffeine consumption can worsen your symptoms and make trivial tasks far harder to manage.
It can increase the feeling of paranoia, shakiness, fear of social engagements, and overall panic.
This all adds a severe amount of stress to your day, and stress makes your body work harder than it’s supposed to while increasing numerous medical risk factors.
3. Lack of Quality Sleep
While related to insomnia, these two effects can be entirely separate. A benefit of coffee is to keep alert.
However, if you have a high caffeine tolerance, it could be because you’re used to consuming it on a daily basis, and in high quantities.
Just because you’re not feeling the effects of someone who is more sensitive to caffeine doesn’t mean that those effects aren’t occurring in your body.
There’s a chemical in your brain called adenosine. This interacts with receptors on nerves cells and makes you feel sleepy. (A receptor is a specific protein on the surface of a cell that transmits information from outside to the inside of the cell).
Caffeine interacts with the same receptors as adenosine and prevents adenosine from interacting with the receptor. Consequently, you feel less sleepy and more active.
It can take up to nine hours for caffeine to be out of your system, which means it’s interfering with your sleep for most of that time.
4. Stunts Growth in Children?
Simply consuming coffee is not going to literally make your children stop growing. There’s a lot of caffeine in soda and energy drinks that US children consume on a daily basis.
There is little evidence, and more speculation, for an adverse effect of coffee on a child’s growth. Coffee may affect a child’s behavior or increase nervousness but the research is still limited.
Remember, that children are sold the same sized energy drinks and sodas (which are high in caffeine) that adults are consuming and children may be taking too much caffeine for their body mass index (BMI).
Some countries such as Canada have recommended that children should be limited to a daily intake of 2.5 mg/kg of body weight.
5. Caffeine Withdrawal
If you’ve been drinking a lot of coffee, you could have become dependent on it without even knowing. This is not a great benefit of coffee.
Removing that caffeine from your diet is going to result in something called caffeine withdrawal, which has a slew of side effects and day-altering issues.
Even if you’re trying to wean yourself off coffee over time, you can still experience some of these issues.
First and foremost, caffeine withdrawal is known to cause headaches.
This is usually the first thing that your body detects from caffeine withdrawal.
You’ll feel it behind the eyes, working up to the forehead, and eventually to your temples.
Headaches aren’t the only thing, though; fatigue, loss of concentration, anxiety, minor bouts of depression, and irritability are all likely to come even after the headache has passed.
The stimulant in coffee is caffeine, and it’s a double-edged sword.
While you can still gain benefits from chlorogenic acid and other components of coffee (with relatively no downsides), the stimulant of caffeine affects many muscles in your body, including your brain.
This can be good while you have caffeine in your system in small amounts, but the withdrawal will cause those vessels to constrict.
Notice how when you drink coffee, you’re never really full of it?
That’s because coffee is a diuretic which isn’t a great benefit of coffee, and that means it helps your kidneys process additional liquids and sodium, which can dehydrate you.
If you drink coffee to fill the void of feeling like you haven’t drunk enough, then it becomes a cycle and increases your risk of dehydration.
The risk of dehydration is very minute, though. At most, you might feel slightly chapped lips if you’ve consumed a lot of coffee in one day, but the symptoms won’t arise just from your daily one or two cups of coffee.
You will experience increased urination, and if you have hypersensitivity, dehydration is more likely to occur, which could include the appearance of sunken eyes, rapid breathing, and excessively dry skin.
Time to Weigh the Difference
Scientific research is revealing more of the science and health benefits of coffee and its components. What may be ‘bad’ today will be ‘good’ in the future (and vice versa). This is the nature of research.
Everyone is different, so some of these positives might have jumped out at you and allowed you to enjoy that afternoon cup of coffee, or the drawbacks might have been too much for you to bear.
Either way, now you’re informed, and you can make a decision that will impact your life for the better.