There is no question about it, and its not a secret about our love affair with coffee that peaks every morning in our own kitchens. We are smitten by that steaming aromatic cup of Joe. Coffee has become so popular it has almost taken on a romance status with people. If you take a look at Instagram, there are over 33 million posts with the hastag #coffee! Facebook has millions more. All people declaring their love of coffee.
There are loads of studies claiming the health benefits of coffee and as coffee lovers we tend to focus on those as they make us feel as if we are really doing something healthy for our body. No one wants to give up their caffeine so that’s what we tell ourselves……and if a little works wonders, wow, what will those gigantic cups do?
Some of the benefits of coffee are that energy boost it gives us. A high quality coffee may be a source of some antioxidants. It has even been touted as an aid in weight loss.
The problem is, that most of us are not enjoying just an occasional small cup of coffee. Despite some of those potential long term benefits the excessive consumption of coffee has some very real and negative side effects on our health contributing to our stress levels.
There are several other negative side effects we experience from excessive coffee drinking and likely aren’t even making the connect to our beloved steaming cup of java.
I would venture to say that most if not all coffee lovers enjoy a cup of coffee every morning before doing anything else, feeling that they can’t function without it and that usually means on an empty stomach. Coffee stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid. This can be a problem because HCI is meant to digest the foods we eat. If our stomach is always producing HCI on account of the coffee it may have difficulty producing enough when it is really needed, when you eat.
HCI is particularly important in the digestion of proteins. Undigested foods, most notabley proteins are associated with numerous health issues, bloating, gas, IBS, diverticulitis, leaky gut and even colon cancer.
Many experts believe that most health problems begin in the gut. That is where 70% of our immune system begins. If our gut is not healthy the consequences can be disastrous. I have seen the benefits of caring for a gut that has been compromised, it was astounding.
So it is clear to see that we don’t want to do anything that will negatively affect the proper function of our digestive tract.
Many of the acids like caffeine found in coffee are very irritating to the stomach and small intestines. So much so that is a common recommendation from doctors to their patients who suffer with ulcers, IBS, gastritis and Crohn’s is to avoid coffee altogether. This begs the question, could excessive coffee consumption be contributing to these health issues in the first place?
Coffee can also irritate the small intestine causing spasms leading to intermittent bouts of constipation and diarrhea. This is known as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and more and more are being diagnosed with this condition every day.
Are you someone who suffers from GERD (love that word), also known as acid reflux? One of the major causes of reflux is the sphincter in the esophagus that does not function properly. Its purpose is to prevent the contents of the stomach from backing up into the throat. The content would likely contain acids/HCI which cause the all to familiar burn, pain or discomfort.
That little muscle the sphincter is meant to make a tight seal, coffee is known to relax it as do other drinks high in caffeine like Coke or other high energy drinks. Even decaf can produce the same problem.
Coffee is also a fairly good laxative and some people use it for that purpose. For some that might be helpful, but having the intestines empty before foods can be properly digested has its downside. The undigested foods that are eliminated carry with them important nutrients, the reason we eat in the first place. Undigested foods passing through the intestinal tract can cause irritation and irritation leads to inflammation and chronic inflammation is a REALLY bad thing.
Coffee can have a negative effect on our ability to absorb many minerals. Most of us have a problem with that whether we are coffee drinkers or not. Coffee affects the way the stomach absorbs iron and the kidneys ability to absorb important minerals like calcium, magnesium (so very important), zinc and others.
Magnesium is particularly important because it is needed in over 300 bodily functions. One in particular, the maintaining of regular bowel activity. Most people are already suffering from magnesium deficiency. To read more on the importance of magnesium you may want to take a look at this article.
There is also a potential cancer causer in coffee coming from roasted coffee beans know as Acrylamide. The darker the roast, the higher the Acrylamide levels will be.
It’s a fact that coffee is one of the most pesticide laden crops on the planet. Coffee beans are also a very moldy crop which is a whole other topic…the effects of mold on our health can also be causing many of your health issues. If you are going to be a regular coffee drinker and are not swayed by the information here, chose really high quality organic coffee. Higher organic quality coffees are likely to be less moldy as crop care is important in these quality beans. When I purchase coffee I choose organic and I know the roast date. I like it to have been roasted within the past couple of days.
Let’s talk about stress. consuming large quantities of coffee will promote the release of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones are meant to initiate the “fight or flight” response by increasing blood pressure, raising our heart rate and increase tension in our body as we prepare to fight for our lives or run.
Usually people drink coffee because it gives them the energy to get through the day. If you pay attention you will notice that what you often experience is more of a jittery kind of tension that makes it impossible to relax so you keep moving. You may be able to push through that rigorous schedule everyday but at what cost to your health? Are our bodies meant to push to that level? How long can you push it without a complete breakdown somewhere along the way?
While our body is pumping out the “fight or flight” hormones, it focuses on functions needed to survive. Eating & digestion are not important and your digestion will suffer. PLUS those constant elevated levels of cortisol will make weight loss more difficult and you may find your self carrying more weight around the middle.
Then there is the issue of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter important in the regulation of mood. Coffee is known to interfere with the metabolism of GABA. Going back to the digestive tract it is also known that moods are also affected there. So if you are consuming high levels of caffeine you may possibly experience negative reactions to your mood in both cases.
And lastly, let’s talk about sleep. Maybe you just have one giant coffee in the morning. It will affect your desire to fall asleep. Decreasing the hours of sleep we really need in order for an adult human body needs to heal itself. For more on the importance of sleep, you mind this article worth a read.
I know that you love your coffee and can’t imagine life without it and this information is probably not what you want to hear. Thoughtfully consider whether or not you are experiencing any of the above mentioned health concerns.
I have not had caffeine in close to 15 years. I was told by my cardiologist to avoid caffeine altogether due to irregular heart beats even though my heart was entirely normal. I stopped cold turkey without to much of an issue. I never expected to feel the sense of calm that would eventually come. I particularly notice the difference today if I am accidentally served a cup of caffeinated coffee when I had ordered decaf. It is down right uncomfortable.
I listen to my body when it tells me I need to slow down. I do not force it beyond its limits with caffeine. When it cries out for sleep I believe it is telling me so because it needs it, it’s time to restore and replenish. We live in a high pressure, overly active world, we push and we push, driving ourselves into an early grave. We need to stop this mentality. Our health is dependent on it.
FDA Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The recommendations above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
You may find this helpful too:
Current average ratings.