Guess What “Too Much” Coffee Does To You
One of the beverages health professionals like myself are asked about frequently is coffee.
Because coffee is a drug (well, caffeine is a drug) and it obviously has stimulatory properties, people can’t help but think it’s bad for you.
Makes sense, right?
If it makes your heart race and you can’t function without it then it’s got to be bad for you, right?
Especially if you drink a lot of it through the day.
Not so fast health conscious reader.
The truth is because coffee is such a popular beverage (Americans drink 146 billion cups annually) it’s been the subject of a massive number of studies.
In fact, It may be the most well-studied beverage on the planet, even more well-studied than alcohol.
And while I’ll admit there are some studies linking coffee to negative affects on our health, there seem to be far more studies showing positive associations between moderate coffee intake and good health.
Notice I said “moderate” consumption. Moderate meaning three to five 8 oz. cups a day.
A litany of studies show moderate consumption may help to fight against some of the most dangerous diseases in the world. Quickly rattling off a few: there are studies linking moderate coffee consumption as a protective agent against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson's disease,cancer and more!
But what about people who drink more than that?
Are the dangers of their addiction (and let’s call a spade a spade here) harming them?
A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates drinking coffee in excess (5+ cups a day) could help you live longer!
To reach this conclusion researchers in the UK (who you honestly think would be researching tea instead) performed an observational study of 500,000 people and their coffee drinking habits.
On an initial visit the participants in the study were all asked how much coffee they drank per day and what kind they drank: regular, decaf, or instant of any kind.
Then in a follow up visit they were asked if their coffee drinking habits remained the same.
The researchers found that all level mortality of those who drank A LOT of coffee was lower than those who didn’t. For that matter, those who drank real coffee (not instant), whether regular or decaf, were more likely to live longer than the instant coffee drinkers.
This led them to conclude it probably wasn’t the caffeine that may have led to a longer life… it was likely the antioxidants in real coffee.
Part of the reason they suspected these antioxidants (which are chemicals known as plant- based polyphenols) were the foundation for longevity is because they noticed that people who drink instant coffee didn’t have the same results as regular coffee drinkers.
Instant coffee doesn’t have as many antioxidants (plant-based polyphenols) in it because they are often stripped from the end-product in the processing phase. Observationally speaking, they concluded it might make sense that their absence is detracting from the observed health benefits.
The researchers concluded:
"’These results provide further evidence that coffee drinking can be part of a healthy diet and may provide reassurance to those who drink coffee and enjoy it.’
With its unwavering popularity, research into coffee is guaranteed to continue. The authors hope that future studies focus more on how the preparation of coffee influences health outcomes.
For now, it seems firmly established that coffee has a raft of health benefits.”
So what does that mean for you, the coffee drinker?
I’ll say this much.
While there are studies linking excessive coffee consumption to longer life, I know this much.
That much caffeine can overstimulate the adrenal glands and lead to adrenal fatigue. While I’m not opposed to coffee consumption, I think 2 glasses a day at most is reasonable. More than that and you’re likely to put unneeded stress on the adrenal glands which can produce other kinds of health problems I’m sure you’d like to avoid.
Of course, there’s research to say that coffee, and lots of it, is good for you, so carpe diem if you’re that in love with coffee.