Is Too Much Coffee Bad for You? That Depends…
If you are anything like me or millions of other people, coffee is a routine part of your day. It’s difficult to imagine our day without coffee as part of our morning routine. And how often have you reached for a cup of coffee or went to a local coffee shop as a midday jolt to get you through your routing?
We also tend to assume that drinking coffee is a better alternative than drinking too much soda as we have all heard the many reasons why we should stay away from soda and diet soda. I always feel it is better for my health to drink a cup of coffee that it is to grab a soda.
But is too much coffee bad for you? While there are guidelines for how much coffee an average person should limit themselves to during a day, it really does depend on a lot of factors.
The Medical Guidelines
Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine is deemed safe for most adults. This equates to about four cups of brewed coffee per day, ten cans of most sodas or two energy drinks. But keep in mind that it the combination of all of these drinks in one day that contribute to your total daily caffeine intake.
A word on energy drinks and sodas here. Energy drinks can vary widely in their caffeine content and unnatural ingredients. Sodas and especially diet sodas have their own many health risks. So if you are going to consume caffeine, coffee and tea are certainly better for you than energy drinks or sodas.
Not for Kids
Somehow we have become accustomed to think that soda pop is okay for children. When you think back to the old soda fountain days (for those of you old enough to remember) it was all about appealing to kids. Well the medical guidelines tell us differently.
Caffeine in any form, including sodas, energy drinks and coffee is not a good idea for kids. It is also recommended that adolescents stay away from it as well.
Coffee and caffeine intake should be limited for women who are pregnant. It can cause dehydration of your placenta and it can also lead to miscarriage. Pregnant women should always talk to their doctor about their daily caffeine and coffee consumption before assuming it is safe as it generally is not.
Coffee and Medication
If you have ever been asked by your doctor how much caffeine you consume on a daily basis, it is not just to scold you for drinking too much of it. Caffeine can have an impact of the effectiveness or interactions with some medications. So don’t provide misleading information as he is only asking so that he knows which medications will not work as well or which ones combined with the caffeine could produce unwanted side effects.
For instance, mixing caffeine with certain decongestants may cause increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke of heart attack. Mixing it with certain medications used to open bronchial airways may increase the level of caffeine in your system, leading to heart palpitations and nausea. Finally the herbal supplement echinacea (used in supplements to prevent cold and flu) when mixed with caffeine can increase caffeine side effects.
It’s Not Just About the Coffee Itself
Most of us add some form of creamer and/or sweetener to our coffee. What we put in one cup may seem innocent, but do you ever think about the total effect of that extra fat, sugar, sweetener in an entire week, month or year? The results can be quite alarming.
Perform this simple exercise. Pour you usual creamer into your coffee cup, then use a tablespoon and measure out how much creamer that was. Now multiple out the fact and other ingredients of what you just poured into your cup. Do the same with the sugar or sweetener you typically add. Multiple that by the number of cups you consume in an average day. Now multiply that by 365 days in the year. You will be shocked at how much extra fat and sugar of sweetener you are adding to your body in a year.
This is not to mention what you consume in your coffee drink at coffee shops. Ask for the nutrition chart on what you typically order there and multiply it by the number of days you estimate you drink that same beverage in a year. It will really change your view on just what you are consuming in the way of things you are adding to your coffee drinks that are making you unhealthy!
Pay Attention to Your Body
Do you ever hear people say that they can drink regular coffee anytime of day and it has no effect on them? That actually may be somewhat true. There are a lot of factors that play into the effect that caffeine has on us and how it can different among individuals. Among these are anxiety level, age, genetics, tolerance to caffeine, body mass, health conditions and medication use.
If you are one of the millions of people who drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day (or along with other sources of caffeine) you may need to consider cutting back on your consumption if you experience nervousness, are restless, are irritable or experience migraine headaches. Also, if you have frequent urination issues, upset stomach, muscle tremors, or a fast heartbeat these could all be signs that you are consuming too much caffeine. Of course the one other big sign is insomnia and difficulty either falling asleep or staying asleep.
Recommendations for Cutting Back on Coffee Consumption
Most people know that abruptly going “cold turkey” and eliminating caffeine entirely from their life can cause headaches and irritability. Fortunately these conditions are temporary if you do choose to eliminate caffeine entirely from your life. Personally though, I like coffee too much to eliminate it entirely. So how do we then at least cut back on the amount of coffee and caffeine we consume? Here are some suggestions:
1) Keep Track: Whether you write in down each day or just keep it in your head, keep track of how much caffeine you are in taking for a week. That includes caffeine from coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, foods and medications.
2) Make it a Gradual Decrease: In other words, it is much easier to eliminate one cup of coffee a day than it is to go “cold turkey” and much easier on your body too.
3) Consider Decaf Coffee: I always keep decaf coffee on hand in case I crave a coffee in the afternoon or evening as you still get the pleasure of drinking coffee without the added caffeine.
4) Herbal Teas: There are so many incredible herbal teas on the market these days that are naturally caffeine-free. You don’t have to go entirely with herbal teas. I just replace on afternoon or evening coffee craving with an herbal tea instead.
5) Don’t Forget to Check Medication: Many do not realize that over the counter medications often times contain caffeine. Be sure you don’t take these later in the day and remember they do count toward your daily caffeine intake.
6) Go With Water Instead: Coffee dehydrates your body so to compensate for my coffee intake, I always drink plenty of water instead. Once you learn the many ways to make water taste good, you will find that you will become less dependent on coffee.
The Good News!
You don’t have to give up coffee altogether. Just be sure you keep tabs on what your body is telling you. Consume less if you believe coffee is causing any issues for you. Watch what you add to your coffee as this is just as important as the amount of coffee you drink in a day. Coffee is still a much better option for you than unhealthy sodas for your body.
If you enjoyed this article or have any comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you as soon as I am able.