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Coffee Consumption: Benefits and Side Effects

Updated on February 23, 2017
Credit: Mike Kenneally
Credit: Mike Kenneally | Source

Coffee is the number one drink that each morning kick-starts a nation of foggy-headed and bleary-eyed sleepwalkers. It’s also a popular energy booster and a quick way to beat the midday slump. Coffee seems to unlock your potential, but have you ever thought about the possible side effects this drink causes? Do you know why people on the Greek island of Ikaria live up to 100 years? Coffee isn’t just a simple drink – it can be both a magic brew and a poison at the same time. Today, we’re on an information-backed journey to exploring the goodness and harmfulness of one of the most popular drinks in the world – coffee.

The Bountiful Benefits of Drinking Coffee Regularly

Let’s start with the goodness first. Organic coffee is crazy good for you. It can be incredibly amazing for your skin, your brain, and your body. Most importantly, it can add years to your life. Who wouldn’t want to live at least 120 years, huh? Check out why you should wake up and drink coffee first thing in the morning.

1. Coffee Is Good for Your Liver Health

Whether you’re an alcohol drinker, fatty food lover, or a healthy eater, you need to maintain your liver health at tip top condition. Drinking coffee can help you with it. The study, conducted in 2006, still has its value in 2017. It proved that people who drink at least a cup of joe each day are 20 percent less to suffer from liver cirrhosis – a widespread disease that’s mostly caused by drinking too much alcohol. Liver cirrhosis can lead to liver failure, cancer, and death. The study involved 125,000 people, which means we can trust the results.


Another study conducted by the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, showed that a regular coffee consumption can help you reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Researchers claim that having at least 4 cups of coffee a day can prevent the development of NAFLD.

Research from the University of Naples in Italy, revealed that coffee increases glutathione, a powerful and essential antioxidant that aids in fighting oxidative stress as well as helps your liver function at its best and do its major job of a body detoxification. What can be a tastier way to support your liver health?

2. Coffee Is Full of Potent Antioxidants

Scientists believe that coffee contains more antioxidants than cocoa and green tea. They have found around 1,000 of powerful antioxidants in unroasted coffee beans, and additional hundreds more in processed coffee beans. A study after study has cited coffee as a leading source of antioxidants.

Research conducted by the American Chemical Society claims that there’s no any other drink that can provide the same amount of antioxidants like coffee does. The body quickly absorbs the most antioxidants from coffee, even if you eat other antioxidant-rich foods like fruit and veggies.
Antioxidants found in coffee beat inflammation, maintain your heart health, and reduce your risk of Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and other types of cancers. They protect your body from free-radical damage and prevent cardiovascular disease. The chlorogenic acid mainly overflows in java is what makes you healthy.

Credit: Mark Daynes
Credit: Mark Daynes | Source

3. Coffee Boosts Your Brain Function

Researchers from the University of Miami and the University of South Florida revealed that individuals older than 65 with higher blood levels of caffeine can develop Alzheimer’s disease 2 to 4 years later than people with the low caffeine levels. While the researchers couldn’t say confidently that a regular coffee consumption can completely protect you from Alzheimer’s disease, they’re sure that moderate java consumption can delay the disease.

Another study shows that coffee consumption is linked with a low risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. This is all thanks to a compound called EHT (eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide) that has great antioxidant properties and helps combat inflammation.

Coffee also has a strong ability to improve your short-term memory. It affects the particular areas of your brain responsible for concentration and memory, providing a huge boost to your short-term memory. Even though there is no clear evidence of how long this effect lasts, having a cup of java when you struggle completing the task is definitely worth a try.

4. Coffee Lowers the Risk of Heart Attacks

A new study that involved healthy young people in Korea states that drinking 3 to 5 cups of java daily can reduce your risk of clogged arteries that often lead to a stroke or heart disease. Although a decade ago scientists believed that drinking coffee regularly caused cardiovascular disease, today they think otherwise.

While researchers don't have a certain proof of how coffee may reduce the risk of arterial disease, they suppose it’s all because of its high disease-fighting antioxidant content. Some of the most powerful antioxidants found in coffee include the caffeine, quinine, melanoidins, hydroxycinnamic acid, chlorogenic acid, trigonelline, and cafestol, among the others.

Credit: Alex Jones
Credit: Alex Jones | Source

5. It Helps You Live Happier and Longer

Coffee has been shown to boost the mood and reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. A large study done by the American Academy of Neurology indicated that people who had 4 or more cups of coffee were less likely to feel depressed than non-coffee drinkers. Caffeine stimulates neurotransmitters that control the mood, including serotonin and dopamine. It’s not because of the high caffeine content, though. Many soft drinks like Coke can also supply your body with caffeine, but they’re all linked with depression. Researchers suggested the reason coffee lifts the mood is due to its great antioxidant content.

Another group of researchers from the University of Athens Medical School discovered why residents of the Greek island of Ikaria live much longer compared to the rest people of the world. There are a lot of people who feel and look healthy in their early 90s and even 100s on the island and many nickname Ikaria “The Island where people forget to die. It turned out the islanders have a habit of drinking a strong Greek java several times throughout the day. This was linked to increased blood vessel health and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers suggested that it’s likely because java is overflowing with antioxidants.

A Harvard study concluded that chronic coffee consumption is associated with reduced disease risk and total mortality compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Regular coffee consumption has also been linked to the lower suicide levels. A research done by the Harvard School of Public Health found that having between 2 and 4 cups of coffee can lower the risk of suicide in women and men by almost 50 percent. The suggested reason was because java acts as a mild yet effective antidepressant by promoting the production of neurotransmitters, such as noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin.

6. Coffee Increases the Workout Performance

Most athletes and scientists have known for years that a cup of freshly brewed coffee before exercise or any athletic performance, including sports like cycling and distance running, gives the energy and increases the overall workout performance. Caffeine boosts a number of fatty acids in the blood flow, which lets the muscles absorb and burn the fats for fuel, preserving the body’s little reserves of carbs for later on in the workout.

A study done by the researchers from the Wingate University in North Carolina determined that drinking java in moderation promotes the cellular recycling process needed to keep the muscles strong. It also helps the muscle regeneration and slow age-related muscle loss, or sarcopenia. Coffee can also better insulin sensitivity and aid in the regeneration of injured muscle after exercise.

Credit: Simon Rae
Credit: Simon Rae | Source

The Possible Side Effects of Coffee

The statistics show that nearly 180 million of people drink coffee each morning and thousands of them over-consume it. Like with anything in life, too much of a good thing is bad. The same goes for java. Drinking too much coffee, especially of poor quality or instant versions, can lead to a number of health issues, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, heartburn, and osteoporosis. Here are some of the most common side effects:

1. Coffee increases the stress and tension levels

You often say you need to have that cup of joe to give you energy. But sometimes it can go further than just a quick energy booster and turn into an addiction. You start believing that you can’t feel your best without coffee. While yes, java pushes you to get through the day, this causes tons of tension and stress down the road.

Drinking too much coffee regularly stimulates the release of the stress hormones, such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol. These chemicals boost your heart rate and blood pressures, making you feel sluggish and stressed. This fight-to-fight mode leads to digestive issues and low mood. The thing is, your digestive system and your mood are interrelated, so the large amounts of caffeine can negatively influence both of them.


The caffeine can also interfere with Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) metabolism. It’s a neurotransmitter involved in controlling stress and mood levels and calming the gastrointestinal tract. Apparently, if you notice that you feel down and suffer from a stomach pain after a cup of coffee (or a few minutes after you have that cup), consider limiting your coffee consumption to one cup a day.

2. You might be allergic to caffeine

You probably know about gluten and lactose sensitivities, but have you ever heard of coffee allergy? A nice steaming mug of coffee sounds like a powerful energy booster yet for some people it can be a killing dose of the harmful stuff. Coffee drinkers often overlook the symptoms of caffeine allergy and blame their job, lifestyle or environment for experiencing various illnesses. Watch out for the following symptoms to figure out if you’re allergic to coffee:

  • Eyes swollen shut;
  • Cold sweats;
  • Vision issues;
  • Flu and cold like symptoms;
  • Delusions or/and hallucinations;
  • Tightness of chest and/or shortness of breath;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Numbness in feet, hands, or face;
  • Severe anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Chest pain;
  • Extreme jitters;
  • Dizziness;
  • Fatigue;
  • Nausea;
  • Bad mood, irritability, anger;
  • Palpitations or heart racing;
  • Throat, glands, or tongue swelling;
  • Poor concentration;
  • Panic attacks;
  • Headaches and migraines;
  • Skin issues like severe itching, hives, acne, rashes, and even eczema.

Even a tiny amount of coffee can cause many of these symptoms if you’re allergic to caffeine.

3. Coffee can cause insomnia

Caffeine-induced sleep disorder isn’t new these days. According to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, when you drink coffee continuously throughout the day or immediately before bedtime, it can delay your sleep onset, alter your normal stages of sleep, reduce your total sleep time, and decrease your quality of sleep. Caffeine in coffee lowers deep sleep in the early part of your sleep cycle and can lead to decreased rapid eye movement sleep. Excess coffee consumption can also lead to intoxication, which is characterized by insomnia, restlessness, excitement, agitation, and rambling speech or thought.

If you drink coffee and you still have a good sleep, it’s not a reason to relax. Your body is trying to build resistance towards caffeine and regular evening coffee consumption can cause chronic insomnia in the long term down the line.

4. It has laxative properties

Coffee consumption can stimulate peristalsis, the process of the involuntary smooth gastrointestinal muscle contraction that makes food move through the digestive tract. Frequent stimulation of this process can lead to diarrhea and serious digestion issues.
People who suffer from chronic constipation often turn to coffee and use it as a natural laxative. If you’re one of them, stop using this method. Otherwise, you risk developing a number of nutrient deficiencies. Not only does coffee stimulate peristalsis, it also promotes fast gastric emptying, whereby the contents of your stomach are moved into the small intestines so quickly that the digesting food has no time to be properly broken down. It makes it harder for vitamins and minerals to be absorbed from the food you put into your body. Moreover, it boosts the chances of inflammation and irritation within the gastrointestinal tract.

It turns out caffeine in coffee isn’t to blame. Decaffeinated coffee has been proven to have gastric emptying and laxative properties as well.

5. Heartburn

Coffee relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter causing heartburn. This muscle must be tightly closed after a meal to prevent your stomach content from returning back into the esophagus and burning its lining with a strong hydrochloric acid.

In fact, any caffeine drink relaxes the esophageal sphincter and causes heartburn, but coffee is the most problematic one. The compounds in coffee contribute to acid reflux issues. When those compounds are combined with caffeine, they can cause a gastroesophageal reflux disease.

6. Conventional coffee is packed with pesticides and other chemicals

The coffee plant is among the most heavily chemically sprayed crops in the world. It’s coated with herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals that are bad for you. Researchers found a possible connection between cancer and pesticides. Pesticides may also increase the risk of kids developing lymphoma or leukemia. Decaffeinated coffee also contains the chemicals that contribute to a number of serious diseases.


The next time you buy your coffee, look for an organic version. If you opt for decaffeinated coffee, read the label and pick the one that claims that the caffeine was removed in an all-natural method.

7. Osteoporosis

Regular coffee consumption may lead to increased calcium excretion and decreased calcium absorption. Calcium deficiency has been shown to lead to osteoporosis, or thinning bones. Although the disease affects mostly older people, young people are at risk as well. According to The Diet Channel, almost 5 milligrams of calcium is lost when you drink 6 ounces of coffee. Prevent your bones from becoming weak and brittle by adding yogurt, cream, or milk to your java. Moreover, avoid drinking more than 3 cups per day or reduce your coffee consumption to a minimum if your bones are susceptible to breaks.

8. Coffee causes dehydration

Caffeine has a dehydrating effect. When you drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day, this habit can lead to dehydration, which in turn, leads to early wrinkles and premature aging. Dehydration can lead to weak metabolism, weight gain, elevated blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and more. Get into a habit of drinking a glass of water before or after you drink coffee to keep your body hydrated and restore your energy levels. If you have trouble drinking plain water, consider having a chia seed pudding for breakfast. Chia seeds have powerful hydrating properties.

9. Hypertension

Even though coffee has no serious risk factor for hypertension, it has unfavorable effects on your blood pressure. A study conducted in Italy showed that coffee consumption can increase the risk for hypertension development and heart disease in people suffering from elevated blood pressure. If you’re prone to hypertension, it’s best to skip java at all.

Today, coffee is one of the world’s most heavily researched products that scientists keep exploring. With all the pros and cons of drinking coffee daily, one thing is obvious – moderation is the key to reaping all the benefits java has to offer. But it’s important that you choose organic coffee beans that don’t contain pesticides. Not only do they contain more health benefits, but also provide delightful and unique aroma.

© 2017 Haider

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    • Haider Mama profile image
      Author

      Haider 6 weeks ago from Melbourne

      Thanks for stopping by and reading the hub.

    • Noa Keshet profile image

      Noa Keshet 6 weeks ago from Israel

      Thank you for the informative hub. I enjoyed reading it with my coffee, particularly the part about how It Helps You Live Happier and Longer.

    • profile image

      J2n5Marie 2 months ago

      Thanks for the info I enjoyed the read!

    • Haider Mama profile image
      Author

      Haider 5 months ago from Melbourne

      I think if you take coffee as a drink and not make it an addiction then it is fine for your health. Unfortunately, many people get addicted to coffee. Now consuming too much coffee has its side effects.

      Thanks for the read thumbi7

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 5 months ago from India

      Thank you for this informative article. I used to wonder "How much" is "more". I take two big cups of coffee and three cups of tea everyday.

      I know it is too much. But can't resist.

      I know for sure that both coffee and tea cause dehydration; probably because I don't drink enough water.

      Thanks again for the hub

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