Many people look forward to a fresh cup of coffee to start their day or for a “boost” during an afternoon slump. But those who are health conscious might be wondering if coffee is okay to consume regularly.
The answer to that isn’t black and white, but let’s look at some facts about coffee and how it affects our bodies:
#1 It Speeds Up the Heart
You probably know that coffee contains the mild stimulant caffeine. It’s the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug worldwide! No wonder so many of us feel like we can’t live without it.
While research shows most people aren’t harmed by a moderate amount, around 2-4 cups per day, there are some side effects we must consider. One of the big ones is coffee’s effect on the nervous system and heart:
- Coffee interferes with how the natural chemical adenosine binds to proteins in our brain cells, which makes the brain more active and stimulates the body — including our heart and blood pressure.
- This can be dangerous for those with heart issues or diabetes. The acids in coffee might also worsen heartburn.
- Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you’re prone to stress or anxiety, speeding up your heart rate might only worsen your symptoms.
Remember to listen to your body and trust what it’s telling you.
#2 It’s Dehydrating
Coffee is a mild diuretic, meaning it causes us to urinate more frequently. Even decaf coffee has this effect. Being dehydrated can cause headaches, tiredness and even sugar cravings.
Be mindful of this and plan to replenish your fluids during coffee time. A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee you have.
#3 It Affects Your Sleep
Drinking too much coffee, especially too late in the day, can really interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine in coffee can last up to six hours, and having it too late in the day can delay the body’s release of melatonin.
Basically, coffee can mess up the body’s internal clock to think we should be alert when it’s really time for bed. If this happens over a long period of time, it can mean chronic lack of sleep and more serious problems.
#4 It Has Benefits
Despite the concerns above, coffee has been shown to provide health benefits:
- It may reduce the risk of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers.
- It can help improve your mood by acting as a mild antidepressant and increasing alertness.
- It’s the #1 source of antioxidants for most Americans — however, that’s likely because most people aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. Either way, ingesting more antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and risks of disease.
#5 It’s (Usually) Fine, But Not Necessary
With coffee, what it really comes down to is this: if you feel like you must have it just to get through the day, there’s something else that needs attention. The goal is a diet and lifestyle that supports you without the need for coffee or stimulants, even if you choose to have them.
For energy without the side effects of caffeine in coffee, you might consider certain nutrients or herbs to help with energy metabolism, many of which I use in my energy formulas, such as:
- Vitamin B12
- Folic acid
- Pantothenic acid
- Licorice Root
- Rhodiola Rosea Root
Also, try getting more sleep, eating more whole foods (especially fresh fruits and vegetables), having a healthy breakfast each morning, and getting regular exercise. You’ll likely be surprised that you don’t need copious amounts of coffee to get by.