Is coffee toxic? Drinking too much coffee, many believe, hamrs your health. However, trends across the health and wellness scene suggest the opposite. Studies indicate that your daily cup of Joe actually deserves a big thumbs up for your health (1). But what if we told you all bodies are different? And that there are some people for whom it’s NOT healthy? And most importantly, that amounts matter. Like most things, it’s always best to take a holistic approach. You are beautifully unique! So, let’s dive into research to establish whether or not that daily coffee is toxic for YOU.
First of all, evidence suggests that coffee: improves your mood, memory, energy, weight loss, physical performance, lowers your risk of Parkinson’s and type II diabetes. Furthermore, it protects against: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, liver conditions and helps ease depression. Coffee contains a high dose of healthy antioxidants. Our society considers it one of the healthiest beverages around today. It seems pretty black and white that health benefits abound. However, like with everything, individuality plays a part. Let’s talk through some concerns with coffee consumption and who should think twice before pouring a second cup.
Is Coffee Toxic For Some Medical Conditions?
If you suffer from a medical condition, anxiety, insomnia, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or a heart condition, then coffee is not a healthy choice. Additionally, coffee is not recommended for children, adolescence, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers (2). One study done on males found that caffeine may reduce male fertility (3).
Studies suggest that caffeine may have negative implications for people with anxiety and those who suffer panic attacks (4). Stress is a condition closely linked to anxiety, and caffeine may increase stress hormones, or catecholamines. Furthermore, cortisol increases insulin levels, which in turn increases inflammation.
The acidity of coffee seems to aggravate most digestive issues including: indigestion, heartburn, GERD and dysbiosis. The health of your immune system, hormonal balance, excretion of toxins, balancing your nervous system, enhancing your brain health and lowering inflammatory levels all link to the health of your gut.
For an optimally functioning digestive system, most recommend eliminating food allergies and sensitivities. If you drink your coffee with milk, this may be a double whammy if you suffer from an intolerance or allergy to dairy.
Coffee may affect your cardiovascular system, including your blood pressure and heart rate. Diastolic blood pressure significantly decreases, but the changes to your systolic blood pressure after drinking coffee requires further investigation. Those with slow caffeine metabolisms may have an increased risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction (5). You can have your DNA tested to give you an indication of your CYP-182 gene to see how efficiently you metabolize caffeine. If you know you are not at any risk of this condition, you could pay attention to your mental and physical reactions after having your coffee. Do you become agitated? Does your heart rate increase? If so, check with your health care provider.
As we all know, coffee affects your mental alertness, activates your noradrenaline and affects the local release of dopamine. Dopamine is your neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) which drives your motivation, learning, memory, attention, mood, pain, pleasure, behavior, cognition and your increased feelings of wakefulness. Dopamine is released during the day, which helps you stay awake and energized. Towards evening time your dopamine levels decrease and your sleep hormone melatonin increases, which helps to induce a deep, relaxing sleep.
Caffeine, as many studies suggest, lowers your quality of sleep by reducing slow-wave sleep and electroencephalographic (EEG) slow-wave activity. In one particular study, caffeine showed signs of increasing stage-1, wakefulness, and arousal during sleep (6). Interestingly, it seems that ageing increases caffeine sensitivity compared to younger adults (7). For optimal rest, happiness and vitality, we need serotonin. Coffee often disrupts the release of serotonin, which affects sleep. So, while coffee isn’t toxic for sleep, the disruption to much needed sleep makes it seem so.
Coffee seems to raise blood sugar levels immediately after drinking. Persons with type II diabetes show higher levels of blood glucose after meals that began with a cup of coffee. But, did you know that coffee helps lower your risk of developing type II diabetes? Confusing, we know! So, type II diabetes… be cautious of caffeine in coffee!
The American Diabetes Association found that high coffee consumption for four weeks increased fasting insulin concentrations compared with coffee abstinence (8). Be aware that signs and symptoms of diabetes include: thirstiness, irritability, loss of energy and loss of weight. One study found that drinking only one cup of coffee per day increases the risk of developing diabetes, but elevating it to more than one cup a day lower the risk of developing type II diabetes (9).
Reasons Why Coffee Is Bad For You
The caffeine in coffee has been known to cause, among other things, restlessness, headaches, irritability, nausea, and dehydration. A class of drugs called methylxanthines, derived from purine base xanthine are in coffee. Plants and animals naturally produce xanthine. Caffeine is a type of methylxanthine partially responsible for the effects of caffeine on learning, memory, performance and coordination. However, caffeine causes apparent effects on anxiety and sleep, which vary according to individual sensitivity to the methylxanthine (10). Sounds a little toxic, huh?
Although coffee may offer your body one of the highest doses of antioxidants of all foods, it is also is a source of a class of chemicals called diterpenes. Above all, higher levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels may be linked to diterpene. However, naturally occurring diterpenes exert several biological activities like anti-inflammatory action, antimicrobial and antispasmodic activities (11). Always buy organic coffee to reduce coffee toxin exposure. These crops are among the highest sprayed with pesticides.
Homocysteine, a naturally-occurring amino acid, converts to another amino acid called cysteine. If the conversion of homocysteine to cysteine becomes impaired, homocysteine levels rise and become harmful. Furthermore, elevated levels of homocysteine, which six cups of coffee seems to cause, may be associated with atherosclerosis, blood clots, cardiovascular disease, stroke, migraines, mood, macular degeneration, and cognitive decline (12).
Loss of Nutrients
Caffeine has been known for years as a diuretic. The increased fluid loss after drinking more than ten cups of coffee per day may also cause loss of vital nutrients including calcium, iron, potassium and even magnesium.
Switching to decaffeinated helps, but decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine. The amount of caffeine in decaffeinated coffee also varies depending on where the coffee grows and the type of decaffeinating process used (13).
How Much Is Too Much
This amount varies for everyone, however, drinking more than 400 mg (the equivalent of four cups of coffee per day) is considered an excessive amount (14). The bottom line on the question, “is coffee toxic,” remains. If you limit your consumption and buy organic, chances are you’ll be ok!
To learn more about how to individualize YOUR coffee intake (and diet intake) visit the 131 Method.