This is a question I get a lot and you may be wondering yourself … should I drink coffee or shouldn’t I? The headlines are confusing. One day coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!
And people’s opinions are equally varied … some people hate it and others love it (or may be addicted to it, or just use it as a way to drink cream and sugar).
Coffee contains an average of 100 mg of caffeine/cup and is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. However, a cup of coffee contains a lot of things in addition to the caffeine such as antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds.
Today I’ll explain the differences in caffeine metabolism, it’s effect on the brain, and how it impacts the risk of certain diseases. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by it. Some of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee (that’s me). And others are “fast” metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
Effects on Brain and Body
The effects of coffee on the brain and body also differ between people. And you probably know how it makes you feel! This is partly from the metabolism I mentioned above, but also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt and become more tolerant of caffeine.
Many people just starting to drink coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have been consuming it every day for a while. Some effects include:
While some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how it affects you personally and decide if it’s worth it or not.
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Some of the things coffee consumption can lead to include:
- Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Increased sleep disruption
- Increased heart attack risk if you’re a slow metabolizer
IMPORTANT NOTE: Coffee intake is just one of many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please don’t think that regular coffee intake alone can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
When deciding whether you should drink coffee, it’s important to listen to how your body reacts when you have it. To determine if coffee is right for you, ask yourself these questions… Does it
- Give you the jitters?
- Increase anxious feelings?
- Affect your sleep?
- Give you heart palpitations?
- Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
- Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?
If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while (at least 2 weeks) to see the difference and decide for yourself.
Want some more food for thought on this topic? This isn’t the first time I have written about it, see my previous post here.