Do you Drink Too Much Coffee?

Do you Drink Too Much Coffee?                                                                         photo Britsh Counsil

Does the smell of coffee in the morning grab your attention?  How many coffee shops will you drive by before finally stopping to get your morning fix of caffeine? We love our coffee, but too much of a good thing can be bad?  Or can caffeine offer benefits to those of us who rely on the potent brown bean?

Keep reading to find out answers to the questions coffee addicts don’t dare ask.

What does caffeine do to your body?

The short-term effects of drinking caffeine are well known. Caffeine is a mild stimulant          
that makes you feel more alert and makes your heart beat faster. It’s a diuretic, so you pee more.  It makes you hot or flush by raising your body temperature, which causes your stomach to make more acid.. Large doses of caffeine can cause high blood pressure, jitters, headaches or sleepless nights.  

The effects of caffeine are temporary, it does not store up in your body and is gone after a few hours.

 Research has shown that, caffeine can contribute to a range of illness’. Despite all the faults of caffeine use, it has been deemed safe by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). So exactly what should you be concerned or not about if you consume caffeine?

Does decaf coffee raise blood pressure?
A recent study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found markedly elevated blood pressure and increased nervous system activity when occasional coffee drinkers drank a triple espresso, regardless of whether or not it contained caffeine. Surprisingly, people who drank coffee on a regular basis showed increased stimulation of sympathetic nerve pathways – but no increase in blood pressure.

The results suggest that some unknown ingredient or ingredients in coffee – not caffeine – is responsible for cardiovascular activation.

Does coffee raise your cholesterol levels?
Drinking perked or unfiltered coffee, like espresso or French-press coffees, can raise your cholesterol levels.  The good news is, if you drink filtered coffee, you aren’t getting the oil compounds which could be the culprit that raise the cholesterol in coffee drinkers.

Can coffee cause cancer?
Acrylamide, an ingredient in coffee has been found to cause cancer in animals.  The World Health Organizations claims this is a cause for concern, but not enough research has been conducted to see how it effects humans.  Now the Acrylamide is not found in the coffee bean itself, but are formed when they beans are roasted.  Experiments are underway currently to find ways to produce coffee beans that won’t create a build-up of acrylamide.

Now when caffeine was tested on mice, it was shown to have a positive effect on skin cancer.  Evidently it helps in blocking the genetic changes to cells that are caused by the sun.

Caffeine may increase symptoms of fibrocystic breast lumps in some women, but no evidence has shown that it increases the risk of breast cancer.

Photo California Coffee Roasters 

What about my heart?
There have been many studies that show caffeine can cause an increase in blood pressure related to how much you consume.  But the studies did not take into account other factors like smoking and alcohol consumption. The IFIC states that "A number of studies have shown that any temporary rise in blood pressure due to caffeine consumption is less than the elevation produced by normal, daily activities." If you have a high blood pressure problem, you should still limit how much caffeine you consume.

A 1997 study found that there is little association between caffeine consumption and heart attacks, while another study in 1998 found that there is only a 2.1% increased risk of stroke for those consuming three cups of caffeinated drinks per day.

I have diabetes, does caffeine effect that?
A research project in the Netherlands found that participants drinking seven or more cups of coffee per day were half as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drank two cups or less per day. Of course  it is not recommended that you start consuming more caffeine because of that study.  You still have to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise to maintain healthy weight and prevent type 2 diabetes.

There isn’t much evidence that shows caffeine effects women who are trying to conceive.  In men thought, caffeine may effect sperm motility, which could be a factor to fertility issues.

Caffeine could increase the risk of miscarriage or a low birth weight in a baby.  If you are pregnant you should avoid caffeine because it does reach the baby and can interfere with the developing baby’s rest periods.  It is also common for newborns whose mother consumed caffeine on a regular basis to have caffeine withdrawals.

Now I know caffeine can cause stress
In a recent study it was found that coffee drinkers feel more stressed, their adrenaline levels were higher and their heart rate is increased.  While some people increase their caffeine intake to get through a time of stress, like tests or project deadlines, but cutting down or cutting out caffeine can actually produce a more positive effect.