America is one caffeinated nation. 54% of Americans over 18 years drink coffee every day. Each coffee-drinking American consumes an average of 3 cups a day. That’s 624 million cups of coffee each day in the United States alone. More surprising, a whopping 83% of the coffee-drinkers say they can’t imagine life without their favorite cup of java. They drink coffee at a total cost of $30 billion each year!
When you consider that we all love our big cup of soda, favorite chocolate bar, power energy drinks and caffeinated soft drinks, all small sources of caffeine, it’s no wonder 90% of adults in the Western world consume caffeine in one form of another each day. Is that a bad thing? Not entirely.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says coffee beans are seeds, and like all seeds, they’re loaded with protective compounds. Drinking low to moderate amounts of caffeine (not exceeding 400 milligrams) a day can have positive health benefits.
Coffee can lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, boost memory and concentration, prevent stroke and certain cancers and cut suicide risk. If you regularly drink coffee (but not decaf), you are also about four to eight times less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Dangers of drinking coffee
However, experts warn there can be too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to drinking coffee. Those who study caffeine’s lesser-known effects point to many studies that show serious reasons drinking coffee might not be such a good habit after all.
1. Drinking coffee is addictive.
First off, caffeine is addictive and people who drink too much coffee become dependent on it. Once dependent on caffeine, it’s difficult to quit. Even cutting back on coffee can be difficult. Caffeine withdrawal can actually trigger fatigue for days until the body adjusts, cause pounding headaches and lead to mental fuzziness. In fact, caffeine withdrawal has been named a new mental disorder. Every time you feel you cannot function without that cup of java, just know you are tending to your addiction.
2. Drinking coffee causes sleep disturbances.
This is a pretty well known fact. Caffeine is an alkaloid and it causes insomnia. Don’t even think about drinking coffee or any other caffeine containing beverages right before you sleep or take a nap. You won’t be able to fall into your beauty sleep until 12 hours are over. That’s because your body needs approximately 12 hours to completely eliminate the alkaloid from your system.
3. Drinking coffee increases blood sugar levels.
According to Dr. Rob van Dam, Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, the caffeine in coffee may make it harder for people with type 2 diabetes to manage their insulin. Caffeine can also slightly raise blood pressures. If you have diabetes or difficulty controlling your blood pressure, you might want to switch to low amounts of decaf or avoid coffee altogether.
4. Drinking coffee increases loss of bone mineral density.
Caffeine is a mild diuretic. It speeds up the urination cycle and in the process “steals” calcium, which is lost through urination. Loss of calcium leads to the rapid development of osteoporosis, an abnormal loss of bony tissues resulting in fragile bones. Osteoporosis can, specifically, lead to some spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women. Avoid high coffee consumption (more than three cups per day) or get at least 800 milligrams of calcium daily through food or supplements just to be on the safe side.
5. Drinking coffee could harm your liver.
Caffeine mixed with paracetamol (acetaminophen), a common painkiller concoction used in the US and Europe, triples the quantity of a toxic byproduct called N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI) that can harm your liver. NAPQI is produced by the enzyme that breaks down the paracetamol. The same harmful effect to the liver was observed in people who drunk 20-30 cups of coffee every day. If you are a heavy coffee drinker, you possibly could be doing your liver a disservice.
6. Drinking unfiltered coffee increases the level of cholesterol.
Unfiltered coffee contains a substance called cafestol, which has been found to trigger a rise in cholesterol levels. Just one cup of unfiltered coffee contains up to 4 milligrams of cafestol that can increase your cholesterol level by 1%. Even espresso contains cafestol because it is not prepared with a filter. If you drink five cups of espresso, your cholesterol level increases by 2%. Avoid coffee generally or use a paper filter to trap the cafestol if you have high cholesterol and don’t want to aggravate the problem.
7. Drinking coffee can increase heartbeats up to a dangerously high level.
The effect of coffee on your cardiovascular health is controversial with some saying it is good and others saying it is a health risk factor. One thing is certain though; too much caffeine causes your heart beat rate to increase. If you are going to participate in sports, the heart beats can rise up to dangerous high levels and trigger bad effects like nausea and shivering. The unnatural heart rhythms triggered by high caffeine intake can also bring serious heart conditions, such as sudden cardiac arrest.
8. Drinking coffee can kill you!
Although cases of death caused directly by drinking coffee have not been reported yet, the chronic effects of consumption of coffee are another story. Remember caffeine is a drug and like other drugs it acts as a stimulant when consumed in moderate amounts. However, in large amounts (over 400 mg or more than 5 cups of brewed coffee a day), it can cause intoxication. The symptoms of caffeine intoxication are similar to those induced by other drugs, including nervousness, excitement, increased urination, psychomotor agitation, rambling flow of thought and speech and irregular heartbeat. Irregular heartbeat is the prelude to a heart attack, which can literary kill you within minutes.