Coffee: Healthy Or Not?

6 Feb

I got the idea for this post a couple days ago when my brother called me a coffee addict. I drink coffee every once in a while when I feel like I need it, but I used to drink it 2 times a day. He goes, “Did you know caffeine is the most consumed drug?” and I said, “Yeah but coffee is not bad for you like people think, there are health benefits.” He responds, “Yeah, OK.”

So that’s how I got here!

coffeehealthy

I wanted to talk about coffee, and whether it is “healthy or not.” We all know coffee has caffeine, which is a stimulant. That’s what gives you energy and wakes you up. There are lots of sources of caffeine (supplements, Red Bull, etc.) but I’m going to focus on coffee, because that’s really the only intake of caffeine I use. Plus, 54% of Americans over 18 drink coffee every day!

Random, but remember when people said if you drank coffee it would stunt your growth? I remember when people told us that in middle school about lifting weights too!

Here are results of a study done by Dr. Rob van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health:

We did not find any relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease. Even people who drank up to six cups of coffee per day were at no higher risk of death.

6 cups?!? I thought my 2 cups was bad…

He goes on to say that most studies base this on 8 oz. cups (not a Venti from Starbucks), and on plain black coffee or with a little milk and sugar (not lattes).

Okay so let’s get into the pros and the cons.

Benefits

Here is another quote from Dr. Rob van Dam:

Research over the past few years suggests that coffee consumption may protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and liver cirrhosis.

Other articles I found support this claim as well. Other benefits are:

The increase in energy in workouts is why I like to get GU with a bit of caffeine in it. Or I just drink a cup of coffee before heading to the gym.

Now let’s get to the cons…

Drawbacks

  • It may affect your sleep.
  • Jitters/tremors
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Increase in the hormone cortisol, which I talked about regarding my dilemma with running. “Cortisol is normally high in the morning, so if you drink some coffee at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., you should be fine, as cortisol is naturally elevated at that time of day anyway.  However, your body may not appreciate coffee as much in the afternoon or evening, when cortisol normally drops. At that point, consider tea or something decaffeinated.”
  • Increased calorie and fat consumption if you’re drinking frappucinos and lattes regularly.
  • Two articles I came across discussed “that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific — and fairly common — genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk.”

So what are we to do? Basically, it comes down to the age old saying: Everything in moderation.

The first study says up to 6 cups of coffee (!!) is okay, though the studies above say that more than 2 cups could affect you, depending on your genes and how your body metabolizes caffeine. So, just try to stick to 1-2 cups of coffee per day, or switch to tea in the afternoon, which is what I have started doing.

When I need an afternoon boost, I drink peppermint tea or decaf black tea, and I still feel a bit more awake after. I think my body just wants something hot for me to think it’s coffee 😉

Overall, I like to think coffee is okay, and there aren’t that many negatives (unless of course, it’s affecting your sleep, digestion, etc.). If you feel it is affecting you, try an elimination diet and see how you feel.

I actually quit cold-turkey once, and started drinking tea. I noticed that I slept much better at night, which helped me feel more awake during the day and not need caffeine.

So it’s really up to you and how it makes you feel! But at least coffee addicts can rejoice because there are a lot of health benefits 🙂

Do you drink coffee regularly? Or tea?

Do you like to use caffeine before runs or workouts?

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13 Responses to “Coffee: Healthy Or Not?”

  1. arunnersenduringexcursion February 6, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Great article! I always enjoy reading research articles and such posts in regard to coffee. I.am.a.coffee.addict! My worst was my semester in Physical Therapy school while making my 63 mile commute (one way). I would literally fill a thermos and drink on my way down. When I got to campus, I stopped at Starbucks and had it filled and drank it throughout the day. On occasion I would have another cup of coffee for the drive home. The side effects were as stated above. The biggest problem–other than drinking this much—was that I did not drink much water.

    What do I do now? I have 1-2 mugs (which are probably 2 cups worth) in the morning. Throughout the rest of the day, I drink a ton of water. On occasion I may have 1 other mug of coffee or tea. As I mentioned above, me drinking a ton of water now is what has truly made a difference in how I feel on a daily basis.

    • reach-yourpeak February 6, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      Yes drinking water is definitely important. and wow 63 miles one day?!? dayummmm I’d need that much coffee too!!

      • arunnersenduringexcursion February 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

        63 miles on way—>126 miles one day. I am so use to it that it appears just like a typical 30 minute drive down the road. I sometimes tell people I am in training and it’s like running. I run and run and run to train for my marathon—I drive and drive and drive to one day make that long drive cross country. Clearly, I support the gas companies. lol

  2. Katie @ My Post Grad Living February 6, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I used to drink 2 cups a day, but decided to cut back and start drinking tea. Now I’m trying out coffee every other morning because I still love the taste!

    • reach-yourpeak February 6, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      I know-I love the taste too that’s why I don’t want to completely give it up for tea! The taste and smell are just too good

  3. Stephanie February 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    I drink a half calf throughout the morning and then a decaf in the late morning/early afternoon. I get my caffeine fix, the antioxidants, and the comforting aroma of coffee without a lot of jitters/caffeine. It’s the only caffeinated beverage that I drink and I drink it black, so only about 5 calories/serving. On the weekends it’s French press!

    Anyone else confused about how oily coffee looks, yet there’s no fat in it?

  4. Move Eat Create February 6, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    I drink coffee daily and I’m totally okay with it. I am so health and nutrition conscious with the rest of my diet and I do truly believe in the benefits of some amount of coffee. I don’t think I’ll ever give up my couple of cups a day!

  5. kristenk February 6, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Uggggh I am addicted to coffee! I have a cup almost every day around 1:00 or 2:00 (I sleep as late as I can and then work out after work FYI) and if I skip a day I feel like crap. Like today. It’s so terrible but I really am addicted and go into withdrawal for days every time I give it up! But I love it too much to ever stop completely 🙂 Thanks for making me feel like it’s not that bad!

    • reach-yourpeak February 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      ahhh I got to a point where I had withdrawal symptoms too (major headaches) so I decided to wean myself off it. But it is so good!!

  6. Miranda February 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    You’ve uncovered my vice of choice! I’m gonna vote Coffee = Healthy for my mental well-being. I exercise like crazy, am vegetarian, drink lots of water, don’t smoke or do drugs, rarely drink… but damn, I friggin’ need my coffee. Everybody gets one. 😉

  7. Sandy February 21, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Caffeine is a natural bronchodilator. I am asthmatic and any attempt to cut down on coffee has led to worse asthma symptoms. Any one who tries to tell me coffee is unhealthy I routinely ignore.

    • reach-yourpeak February 21, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Really? I didn’t know that – good to know. I agree, there is no problem with coffee, and I hate when people try to tell me it’s not healthy but can’t give me good reasons as to “why”

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