With roughly 151.3 million bags
consumed each year, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Most people drink coffee for the caffeine content, but it's not caffeine that is the problem. It is the coffee itself which can cause problems. In light of this, we are going to debunk the question 'is coffee bad for you?' and outline 15 reasons why coffee could be damaging your health (backed by science of course).
15 Reasons to Avoid Coffee
Better Alternatives for Energy
- Coffee Is Highly Acidic
- Coffee Can Be Additive and Create Withdrawals
- Coffee May Lead to Elevated Urinary Excretion of Important Minerals
- Constituents in Coffee can Interfere with Liver Detoxification
- Coffee-Specific Caffeine Increases Catecholamines, Your Stress Hormones
- Coffee May Leech Serotonin Into Your Urine
- Coffee May Throw Off Your Gut Motility
- Coffee Drinkers Often Add Milk and/or Sugar
- Coffee Caffeine Creates Jitters
- Coffee Can Decrease Your Body's Ability to Control Insulin
- Coffee May Raise Your Cholesterol Levels
- Coffee Can Disrupt Your Natural Sleep Cycle
- Coffee May Decrease Your Chances of Pregnancy and Create Fertility Issues
- Coffee Can Stain Your Teeth and Cause Decay
- Coffee May Cause Hypertension
- Get Your Hit of Alertness from Yerba Mate
- Add Some Lion's Mane for Limitless Like Cognition
- Try Some Energy-Producing Adaptogenic Herbs like Holy Basil
15 Reasons to Avoid Coffee
1. Coffee Is Highly Acidic
Did you know that coffee is a very acidic beverage
? We use a pH scale to measure acidity from everyday items. It starts at 0 with very high acidity levels, 7 is neutral, and anything above 7 has a lower acid content. Battery acid has a pH of 0, lemon juice has a pH of 2 and most black coffee has a pH of 5. This acidity content is high enough for bacteria
to start to thrive in your mouth, and this can cause bad breath and tooth decay or gingivitis.
Additionally, how you brew your coffee and choose to drink it can cause fluctuations in your coffee's acidity levels. This means that it may be very acidic one time, and the next time you drink it, it'll be less acidic. This acid content can also cause you to have minor digestive upset
. This can include things like acid reflux because coffee can irritate your stomach lining.
2. Coffee Can Be Addictive and Create Withdrawals
Coffee, or the caffeine content in coffee, can be a very addictive substance
. This caffeine content is one of the main reasons people drink coffee in the morning. The caffeine content can give them a boost of energy to go about their day. Caffeine or coffee dependency can cause you to have withdrawals
if you're used to having a set amount each day and you suddenly quit.
When you quit or cut back on your normal caffeine consumption, it's common to experience things
like headaches, mood swings, irritability, trouble concentrating and fatigue. The reason it causes headaches is because the caffeine in coffee causes your brain's blood vessels to constrict
. When you don't have it, this sudden influx of blood flowing through your vessels causes headaches. Coffee also increases your heart rate and hormone levels, and going without it can leave you feeling jittery and anxious
because you get used to having certain levels of these hormones in your body.
3. Coffee May Lead to Elevated Urinary Excretion of Important Minerals
When you drink a lot of coffee, you may notice that you have to go to the bathroom more frequently
. A large part of this is due to the caffeine content because caffeine is a diuretic. A diuretic prompts your kidneys to flush your system more often. This means that you'll feel the urge to go to the bathroom more, and unfortunately, this urinary frequency means you can lose important minerals that your body needs for day to day functions.
You can lose electrolytes
through your urine like calcium, potassium and magnesium. The more you have to go to the bathroom, the more of these vital minerals you're in danger of losing. Additionally, coffee can stop your body
from absorbing minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. When you combine these two things, they can potentially lead to deficiencies if you already have low levels of these minerals.
4. Constituents in Coffee can Interfere with Liver Detoxification
Constituents are compounds you can find in your coffee, such as antioxidants, caffeine and diterpenes. The more coffee you drink each day, the more constituents go through your system. While this isn't a huge problem if you occasionally drink coffee, people who drink a lot of coffee each day could see issues arise. Particularly, they could start to have trouble with liver detoxification
Coffee's constituents can have a direct effect
on your liver. In short, coffee has the ability to slow down your body's normal drug metabolism. It can also raise your stress hormone levels and cause your liver to work harder to keep up with it. This takes resources away from the detoxification process
, and this slows it down. If this happens, you might start to notice you have issues with gallbladder attacks, motion sickness, pale stools and a bitter taste in your mouth.
5. Coffee-Specific Caffeine Increases Catecholamines, Your Stress Hormones
Catecholamines are stress hormones,
, and they include epinephrine, dopamine and norepinephrine. Their main purposes are to act as messengers between your various systems and between the hormones that regulate your breathing rate and your heart. When they're functioning at their normal levels, you shouldn't feel overly stressed or anxious. However, a fluctuation in these levels can cause problems.
The coffee-specific caffeine you get when you drink a cup of coffee can disrupt these natural stress hormone levels
and cause them to increase rapidly, and send them into an unstable fluctuation. In turn, you can see your heart rate start to go faster and you can even start to feel jittery or anxious because your stress levels fluctuate. Additionally, your mood is directly linked to your hormones, and a rapid fluctuation can cause depressive symptoms
and fatigue. These can worsen as your stress levels continue to go up.
6. Coffee May Leech Serotonin Into Your Urine
is an amino acid that you can find in your body, and your nerve cells produce it. You'll find the greatest concentration in your digestive tract, and this amino acid helps to regulate everything from your motor skills to your hormones to your mood. It can also affect your social behaviour, digestion, appetite, memory, sexual desire and sleep cycles.
This amino acid performs its function, goes through the liver, and it's eliminated through your urine. This elimination process is what helps to keep your body's serotonin levels within safe levels. However, coffee may leech serotonin
out of your urine and send it back into your body. This can result in too much serotonin in your blood, and it could potentially lead to serotonin syndrome
and the complications that come with that.
7. Coffee May Throw Off Your Gut Motility
Your gut motility
refers to the natural movement in your intestinal lining and your stomach. These muscles are what move the food you eat through your intestines. When your muscles or nerves don't function like they should, you can have problems regulating your digestive system. It can lead to constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.
Drinking coffee every day can cause a disruption
in the natural movement of your digestive tract. It can cause your gut's muscles to work in quick bursts and then slow down again
. If this happens, you may notice things like periodic cramping, the sudden urge to go to the bathroom and general digestive upset. The more coffee you consume each day, the more chances your gut motility has of getting disrupted.
8. Coffee Drinkers Often Add Milk and/or Sugar
Although many people drink black coffee, a decent percentage of coffee drinkers add milk, sugar or both of these things into their coffee each time they drink it. These additives can take away some of the bitter taste that is associated with drinking coffee. While most people don't think of this as a bad thing, adding milk and/or sugar to your coffee can have some unintended health effects.
For example, milk contains casein
. A little over half of the protein found in milk is casein, and the rest is whey. Casein can wreak havoc on your body because it breaks down much slower than whey, and your body generally has a more difficult time breaking it down. Also, studies have found possible links between casein and cancer
, and it also causes inflammation
Sugar is another popular additive to coffee, and this can cause cardiovascular problems
as well as weight gain, especially if you're adding a lot of it to your coffee each time you drink it. There are roughly 16 calories
in a single teaspoon of sugar, and people usually use more than one in their coffee. Finally, excess sugar can also cause issues with diabetes
, and it can make it difficult to control your blood glucose levels.
9. Coffee Caffeine Creates Jitters
Coffee-based caffeine is a stimulant. This may not necessarily be bad news for certain people, but it can cause problems for anyone who has an anxiety disorder or who is already kind of "jittery" before they add caffeine. Coffee-based caffeine stimulates your body's fight-or-flight response, and it can flood your body with norepinephrine
. When this happens, the cells of your body go on high alert. If the norepinephrine has nowhere to go or you don't burn it off by fight or flight, you get jittery.
One study documented
the effects of coffee-based caffeine as it affects your mood, eye movements, cardiovascular function and cognitive performance. They found that it could increase your blood pressure, put you at a higher risk for cardiovascular events and cause rapid eye movements.
For people with anxiety,
these jitters can cause an increase in their anxious feelings or sensations. You may feel jittery, confused, irritable or start to sweat. This mimics an anxiety attack
and generalised anxiety symptoms. Since most people with anxiety already deal with a jittery feeling, coffee can be a bad mix when it comes to trying to control and regulate their anxiety symptoms.
10. Coffee Can Decrease Your Body's Ability To Control Insulin
Your body naturally produces a peptide hormone called insulin
. Your pancreas is responsible for secreting insulin to help regulate your natural blood glucose levels. It prompts your cells to increase their glucose intake, regulates carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism and it also promotes healthy cell growth and division. When you have normal insulin sensitivity levels, your cells respond to the level of sugar in your blood and adjust it accordingly.
However, emerging studies show that drinking coffee regularly can actually decrease
your body's insulin sensitivity. If this happens, your cells won't be able to respond appropriately to the levels of glucose in your blood, and you could start to experience high blood sugar levels or levels that fluctuate between extreme highs and extreme lows.
Consistent high blood sugar readings can increase your risk of arterial deterioration and heart issues
because your body will have to work harder to stabilise your blood glucose levels.
11. Coffee May Raise Your Cholesterol Levels
Although unfiltered coffee can be an excellent source of antioxidants
, it's also a large source of diterpenes
. This means that every time you drink coffee, you're allowing more diterpenes into your system. Diterpenes are chemical compounds that give coffee that unique and slightly bitter flavour that so many coffee drinkers love, and you can find them in coffee's oil
. Depending on how you brew your coffee, it may have higher or lower levels of diterpenes because paper filters catch and hold a good amount of them.
Unfortunately, research and studies
showed that diterpenes can have a negative impact on your body's cholesterol levels. When you drink a lot of coffee, especially boiled instead of brewed coffee, your LDL cholesterol levels can rise because you'll get a higher level of diterpenes in your system. LDL cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol in your body, and you generally want this level to be lower while you increase your "good" cholesterol levels.
Once these levels start to rise, it can be difficult to bring them back down again. Additionally, higher levels of LDL cholesterol can put you at an increased risk for stroke, heart attack or cardiovascular events
12. Coffee Can Disrupt Your Natural Sleep Cycle
Every time you sleep, you go through a natural sleep cycle
where you start out in a lighter sleep, cycle into a deeper and more restful sleep and slowly come into a lighter sleep before you wake up again. Your REM sleep cycle, or the deep sleep stage is where your body starts to repair itself and undo the damage of the day.
Drinking coffee, especially later in the afternoon, can have a negative impact on your sleep cycle. We mentioned earlier that caffeine is a stimulant, and this stimulant can give you a boost of energy and help you stay awake. Studies found
that drinking a lot of coffee can actually shorten your sleep cycle by up to two hours each night.
Another study had participants drink coffee 0, 3 and 6 hours
before they went to bed. They found that the participants who had coffee 3 and 6 hours before they tried to go to sleep had significantly more issues falling asleep and staying asleep than the group who had the placebo. Knowing this, you may want to consider cutting off your coffee intake around 2 or 3 in the afternoon so you're able to fall asleep by 9 or 10 without problems.
13. Coffee May Decrease Your Chances of Pregnancy and Create Fertility Issues
For some people, getting pregnant and going through their entire pregnancy without having problems can be challenging. This number is roughly 10% of the female population between the ages of 15 to 44. Infertility means that you're having difficulty getting pregnant after six months to one year of trying.
A Danish study
took 4,000 women who were undergoing IFV treatments and polled them on their coffee consumption habits. They found that the women who consumed five or more cups of coffee every day had more difficulties getting pregnant. The findings held even after the scientists considered other factors like smoking, age and their body mass index.
A second study took 124 women
and had them provide daily urine samples to measure their hormone levels and access their chances of getting pregnant. They found that the women who had less than one cup of coffee per day could conceive an average of 26.9 pregnancies over the course of 100 cycles, while the women who drank more coffee each day could only conceive an average of 10.5 pregnancies over 100 cycles.
14. Coffee Can Stain Your Teeth and Cause Decay
The enamel on your teeth is what protects them from decay or sensitivity, and it's also what stains or gets discoloured when you drink coffee or certain teas. It's the tannin acid
in the coffee that starts to adhere to the surface layer of your teeth and cause the stains. Unfortunately, you can start to see stains of discolouration with only one cup of coffee each day.
The decay comes in when you start to add syrups and sugars to your coffee, as well as certain sweet creamers. These sweet things give the bacteria in your mouth something to eat and thrive on, and they can start producing acid and attacking your teeth.
When this happens, you start to experience tooth decay and enamel breakdown. This can come with discomfort, pain or even tooth loss if it gets bad enough.
15. Coffee May Cause Hypertension
Hypertension or high blood pressure
, is a common medical condition. Your blood pressure is the amount of force blood puts on the walls of your arteries as it circulates throughout your body. It's measured by how much pressure your heart puts out when it contracts and fills with blood and how much pressure your heart exerts when it relaxes and fills with blood.
Drinking coffee can cause a very short by sharp spike
in your blood pressure levels. The spike typically starts 30 minutes after you have your coffee, and it peaks at one or two hours. However, you may have high blood pressure for up to four hours after you drink coffee.
This means that people who already have high blood pressure will experience even higher levels, and this can increase your risk for cardiovascular problems like a stroke or a heart attack. It also means that continued coffee consumption can potentially cause consistent higher blood pressure readings.
Better Alternatives for Energy
Now that you're aware of 15 reasons why you may want to ditch coffee, we're going to give you three healthier alternatives that can give you your boost of energy to get you through the day without the side effects.
1. Get Your Hit of Alertness from Yerba Mate
is a tea you get from brewing holly-like leaves from a South American tree. It's a popular alternative because it has almost as much caffeine as you'd get in a traditional cup of coffee. Your final caffeine amount can fluctuate depending on your brewing time and brewing method. You'll also get high levels of antioxidants, 15 amino acids and over 24 different vitamins and minerals.
2. Add Some Lion's Mane for Limitless Like Cognition
Lion's Mane is an edible Asian mushroom
species. It has a long history of medicinal use, and it's praised for various reasons, including promoting brain health. One study showed that adding Lion's Mane to your diet could help to improve mild cognitive impairment
. A second study showed that this mushroom could also help you retain and make new memories
, but you have to eat it daily.
3. Try Some Energy-Producing Adaptogenic Herbs like Holy Basil
Adaptogenic herbs are herbs that have medicinal uses and properties. Holy Basil is one example of a very potent adaptogenic herb. Among its many medicinal uses, it's effective at promoting cognitive health
. Additionally, adding this herb to your daily routine can give you a boost of energy
that is similar to what you'd get when a cup of coffee but without the side effects.
For many people, the thought of giving up their daily dose of coffee can be a difficult thing to consider. However, we've outlined 15 great reasons why you may want to ditch your coffee in favour of more healthy alternatives. You can try the three great alternatives we mentioned above to get your boost of energy and be able to go through your day happy, energised and sharp.