Is Coffee Bad for You?

By Teah Teriele — / Lifestyle

Coffee and Your Health

Since coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world, it's no surprise that several tests have been conducted and expanded upon in the last few years. As scientific studies become more precise, we adapt by weeding out all of the misinformation. Is coffee bad for you?

Firstly, it's important that we're talking about the same beverage. We're talking about coffee in the truest form—not a beverage diluted by additives such as cream and sugar. To put it into perspective, black coffee has zero calories. Coffee with cream and sugar is high in calories, fat and sugar. So, of course, this version of the drink is not very healthy.

Coffee and Your Lifestyle

But even if you avoid all the sweet stuff in your coffee, determining whether coffee is bad or good for you is still a bit tricky to interpret. That's because relationships between different lifestyle factors can often be difficult to interpret.

For one thing, coffee drinking is correlated with other dietary and lifestyle behaviors such as alcohol, nicotine consumption and a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, people who drink a lot of coffee also tend to drink, smoke and be out of shape. 

On the other hand, people who don't drink coffee often make that decision based on health-related issues. They’re more likely to be health conscious in other ways, making health-promoting lifestyle choices such as exercise.

Coffee's Positives and Negatives

In general, that means comparing coffee drinkers with non-coffee drinkers doesn't take into account many important variables. And since coffee is made up of several different compounds and each compound behaves differently in the body, blanketing coffee as "good" or "bad" just doesn't make sense. So let's go through some of the positive and negative effects instead.

Weight Loss

Caffeine in coffee tricks you into thinking that you’re not hungry, which can be dangerous for some people. However, people trying to lose weight might find this helpful. 

Problems Sleeping

To put it simply, caffeine blocks the receptors in your brain that tell you you're getting tired. For most people, this is a benefit. Obviously, if you're losing sleep completely because of your caffeine intake, you might want to slow down. 

High Blood Pressure

Although there are no recorded effects on long-term blood pressure for those acclimated to caffeine, people with high blood pressure should limit their caffeine intake. You can determine if caffeine is raising your blood pressure by checking it within 30 to 120 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 points in that amount of time, you may be sensitive to caffeine. If you have to cut back on caffeine, do it gradually over several days to a week to avoid the dreaded withdrawal headaches.

Pregnancy Issues

There is still much debate about whether or not coffee is bad for pregnant women. We do know that caffeine does reach the fetus, which is very sensitive to caffeine. Most doctors recommend pregnant women limit their intake to one cup of coffee a day.  

Mental Effects

Coffee increases the receptors of GABA (alertness), acetylcholine and seretonin (happiness). One study suggests that those who drank 2-4 cups of coffee a day had a decreased suicide risk by up to 50%. On the other hand, there can be withdrawal symptoms such as headache and a depressed mood. Basically, coffee makes you feel great, but a dependency can make it tough to go without it. 

In summary: Coffee can be perceived as "good" or "bad" depending on what you're looking for. It is neither a killer nor a miracle drug. As they say, "everything in moderation." 

Related: How to switch to black coffee [4 steps] 

Older Blogs Newer Blogs