Coffee: Good Guy... or Bad Guy?

Many people reach for the coffeepot in the morning to get the day started, but do you really understand the impact that this habit has on your body?  

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 80% of adults in the United States consume some form of caffeine every day. This stimulant is consumed so frequently that many people have developed a tolerance to high amounts of caffeine in the diet. Caffeine is a prevalent ingredient in several kinds of beverages such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and sodas. It is also used as an ingredient in certain over the counter (OTC) medications.   

Despite its widespread use, caffeine is classified as a drug in addition to a food because of its stimulating impact on the central nervous system. Coffee (and its caffeine content) is the world’s most widely consumed energy booster, but how much do you really know about the physical and mental effects of coffee on your body? 

Pros 

Coffee (and its naturally occurring caffeine) provides an energy boost when consumed responsibly. It is also noted to have several other beneficial effects. Among these, coffee is known to be a natural liver detox agent and can help cleanse the colon when used as a coffee enema. Coffee is also capable of stimulating hair growth and relieving post-workout muscle pain.  

A study in Japan showed that caffeine alone is capable of increasing memory. This study was replicated in the United States, where it was found that a 200 mg caffeine pill helped boost memory. Similarly, there have been studies showing coffee consumed in moderation (3-5 cups/day) may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease.  

Cons 

Despite some of these positive impacts, coffee can have additional harmful effects. A Mayo Clinic partnered study found that those who consumed more than four 8 oz. cups of coffee showed a 21% increase in all-cause mortality. Additionally, coffee consumption has been shown to raise blood pressure, negatively impact sleep quality, contribute to digestion problems and headaches, and is linked to gout attacks.  

Coffee has also been shown to increase anxiety and depression and can even inhibit collagen production in the skin. In addition, because coffee tolerance can build up over time, many people end up needing to increase consumption to obtain the same energy boost. However, consuming an excessive amount of coffee can prove dangerous, as the caffeine in coffee causes more forceful heart contractions and can even cause heart stress.  

The Bottom Line? 

Coffee consumed in moderation is not harmful to most people and most likely carries some positive side effects. However, coffee consumption should be monitored to make sure it is not excessive. If you find yourself consistently reaching for the coffee cup, consider cutting back to 1 cup/day. Instead, increase exercise levels or amount of sleep, both of which are known to increase energy levels.