Everything you need to know about coffee

Ahhh coffee. For some of us, it’s no big deal. For others, life is not worth living until we’ve had our morning brew. Globally, it is one of the most popular beverages. One which often leaves health experts somewhat divided. Some swear by their daily java, while others argue you’re best to avoid it all together. It’s confusing to say the least!

We’ve consulted the research, and we’re here to deliver the good, the bad, the ugly on coffee consumption.

The Good. 

  • Rich in antioxidants. Coffee actually contains over 1000 bioactive compounds. Some of which may offer potentially therapeutic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties (1). 
  • The obvious one – coffee can boost energy levels and make us feel more alert. This is due to the presence of caffeine, the most widely consumed stimulant in the world. Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, called adenosine, which can increase the presence of other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which may cause our overall brain function to temporarily increase. Many studies have reported the increase in energy, mood and reaction times after consuming caffeine. (2)
  • May actually be protective for the liver (3). Various studies have shown that regular coffee consumption may actually help improve liver enzyme tests. 
  • It’s a great preworkout. Caffeine has widely been used to help enhance exercise performance and reduce the time to fatigue.
  • May be beneficial for fat loss. Caffeine is commonly used as a weight management supplement. This is because it is one of the few substances that has been shown to increase metabolic rate. (4)

The Bad. 

  • May increase stress and anxiety. Every time we consume caffeine it stimulates the body to produce more adrenaline and cortisol. While in low amounts, this can make us feel more alert and motivated, an excess of adrenaline and cortisol can leave us feeling anxious and stressed. Increased anxiety may be experienced from excess consumption of coffee, or by those who are caffeine sensitive. Monitor your intake and be realistic about how coffee makes you feel. (5)
  • May interfere with sleep. Caffeine can take a long time to break down in the body, and while this is great to keep us alert during the day, too much may have an impact on our sleep (6). For optimal sleep quality and quantity, avoid too much coffee throughout the day, particularly after lunch.

The Ugly. 

  • May lead to addiction. Although caffeine does offer health benefits, there’s no doubt it can be habit forming. Studies have shown that regular consumers of large quantities may experience physical and / or psychological withdrawal symptoms (7).
  • May cause digestive distress. Most coffee drinkers are familiar with the mild stimulatory effect caffeine has on the bowels. Unsurprisingly, this effect can be exaggerated when excess caffeine is consumed, leading to loose bowel movements. Some studies have suggested that excess consumption of caffeinated beverages may play a role in exacerbating symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) (8). 

The bottom line:

Mild-moderate coffee consumption may offer a number of health benefits – for some people. While for others it may be problematic. In most cases, problems only arise with excessive intake of caffeine. As always, we recommend listening to your body and being realistic about how your coffee intake is impacting your unique body. If you need to cut back, consider decaf or switching to herbal teas.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat any health concerns you may have. This information is not intended to replace the advice given to you by a qualified health professional. Get in contact with a Tonic Health consultant or a relevant health professional if you need guidance on your individual health journey.