When You Drink Coffee Every Day, This Is What Happens To Your Body
BY CAT LAFUENTE/JAN. 8, 2020 3:56 PM EST
Americans often drink coffee every day. Overall, coffee consumption in America is on the rise, according to an article in Reuters. About 64 percent of Americans drank at least one cup of coffee per day in 2018, up from 62 percent the year before. That means many millions of folks are starting their day with the dark, caffeinated beverage, most of them at home, though coffee shops are very much alive and well, too. Additionally, more and more folks are reaching for the fancier stuff, as gourmet coffee is rising in popularity.
As to whether drinking coffee every day is good or bad for you, it's not a black and white issue, according to an article in Time. On top of that, the scientific consensus has changed, evolved, and shifted the years, though it's a lot better today than it used to be. And overall the outlook is more positive than it is grim — good news for bean juice devotees.
So what happens to your body when you drink coffee every day? Read on to get the entire scoop.
If you drink coffee every day, you'll get addicted to caffeine
Having that first cup of coffee in the morning can feel downright magical sometimes, especially if you're particularly dragging that day. But be careful if you find yourself doing it every day as you can get addicted, as noted by veteran science writer Bart Wolbers. "If you drink coffee every single day then you'll soon get addicted to caffeine," he told The List. "The reason for that addiction is that coffee normally binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain — adenosine is what builds up sleep pressure. Over time, however, the body creates more adenosine receptors which are then no longer bound by the caffeine in coffee."
So what does that mean in layperson's terms? "As a result, your energy levels go down and you need coffee just to counter the withdrawal symptoms," he continued. And those symptoms can include irritability, brain fog, headache, and exhaustion, according to Healthline. In order to avoid that, Fergus recommends cycling your beverages to prevent tolerance buildup if you drink coffee every day.
Wondering if you're hooked on java? Here are ways to tell you're addicted to caffeine.
You'll be more alert and less depressed if you drink coffee every day
While adenosine and adenosine receptors play a role in getting addicted to coffee, it's not all bad news. That's because according to cardiologist Dr. Steven Reisman, director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, you can also reap some benefits because of adenosine blockage. "With coffee you will feel more energetic because caffeine increases brain activity by blocking adenosine and increases neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine," he explained to The List. "This reduces tiredness and increases alertness."
That's not the only positive impact that drinking coffee every day can have on your mood, either. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that the people who drank the most coffee were less likely to be depressed. And in another study, this one in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, researchers concluded that coffee drinkers who consumed four or more cups of coffee daily were considerably less likely to take their own lives. Whether or not you should drink that much is up for debate, but the facts still stand.
You just might lose weight if you drink coffee every day
According to the CDC, nearly half of the American population is trying to lose weight, more of them women than men. If you're one of the many people that belong to that statistic, your daily coffee habit might just help you drop those unwanted pounds, as noted by cardiologist Dr. Steven Reisman, director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center. "Coffee may also help you lose weight by improving physical performance in aerobic exercise," he revealed to The List. "It also helps your body absorb and burn fatty acids in the bloodstream." Honestly, that sounds pretty awesome.
That doesn't mean that making the decision to drink coffee every day is magic, however — you still have to put in the work, according to registered dietitian Diane Vizthum. "The bottom line is that coffee is one part of your lifestyle," she shared in an interview with Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Some of the factors that make a bigger impact on your health are eating a balanced diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. Drinking coffee should just be an addition to those key health factors."
If you drink coffee every day in the afternoon, your sleep will be disrupted
Drinking coffee every day is a pretty normal habit, especially if you're just grabbing one or two cups right after you wake up. But if you're drinking coffee well into the afternoon, you might find yourself battling some insomnia, as noted by Dr. Becky Gillaspy, a certified health and wellness coach. "You will sleep less soundly if you drink coffee in the afternoon," she informed The List. "Caffeine has a half-life of six hours. So, if you drink coffee at 2 PM, half of the caffeine from that cup is still in your system at 8 PM." And if you drink coffee every day at 4 p.m., you're going to be up even later.
So if you find yourself unable to sleep at night, try adjusting your coffee intake to only the morning hours. Coffee isn't a substitute for actual sleep, after all, as shown by a study in Progress in Brain Research.
You may become agitated if you drink coffee every day
In addition to interrupting your sleep, depending on your physiology, drinking too much caffeine (at any time of day) can have other negative health impacts, according to a study in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. So if you find yourself feeling the jitters, getting agitated, feeling anxious or nervous, or having an all-out panic attack, cut down on the coffee ASAP. Choosing to drink coffee every day could be a major contributor to any of those unpleasant and unwanted effects.
This is especially true for individuals who already have a pre-existing psychological issue (such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder), as consuming too much caffeine can exacerbate psychosis, increase hostility, and cause added anxiety, something a number of celebrities have dealt with. Additionally, people who have eating disorders may also misuse coffee, so you might want to talk to your doctor before consuming any if you're prone to any of these conditions. Or just stick to the decaf. Whatever the case, just watch out for signs you're drinking too much caffeine.
If you drink coffee every day, it might help you live longer
Most people sincerely hope to live a long, healthy, and happy life, according to Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Emory Center for Ethics — and find the concept of dying pretty scary. "The thing that is most difficult and inscrutable to us as mortal beings is the fact of our own death," he revealed in an interview with Time. "We don't understand it, we don't get it, and as meaning-laden beings, we can't fathom what it means to not exist." It's heavy, but it also happens to be true.
On a lighter yet related note, if you drink coffee every day, you may help yourself stave off death — at least for a while, as noted by certified health and wellness coach Dr. Becky Gillaspy. "You may live longer," she explained to The List. "A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that coffee drinkers over the age of 50 had a reduced risk of premature death compared to non-coffee drinkers." We'll take it! We guess that means coffee is just one of many things healthy people drink in a day.
You might be at less risk for type 2 diabetes if you drink coffee every day
According to the CDC, more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or are at risk of developing the disease. And with diabetes comes many potential problems, according to dietitian Dr. Ann Albright, director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "Diabetes is a contributing factor to so many other serious health conditions," she explained. "By addressing diabetes, we limit other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, nerve and kidney diseases, and vision loss."
Once again, your daily cup of Joe might be protecting you from adverse outcomes, as noted by certified health and wellness coach Dr. Becky Gillaspy. "You may protect yourself from diabetes," she told The List. "A large review study analyzed the association between coffee consumption and risk of diabetes. They found that the consumption of coffee was associated with reduced risk, even if the coffee was decaffeinated." Deciding to drink coffee every day doesn't sound too bad.
When you drink coffee every day, you'll boost your antioxidant levels
According to Harvard University, antioxidants are an important component in your diet. They help to reduce any potential harm on the body caused by free radicals, thanks to their willingness to spare the electrons that free radicals so hungrily crave. And while foods rich in antioxidants have indeed been over-hyped in the past as miracle foods, the bottom line is that eating whole foods that contain antioxidants is good for your health.
Fortunately, your daily dose of java can supply you with these important substances, as noted by certified health and wellness coach Dr. Becky Gillaspy. "You will boost your body's level of cell-protecting antioxidants," she revealed to The List. "When you brew a cup of coffee, the nutrients from the coffee beans are transferred to your cup. Many of these nutrients act as antioxidants that protect your cells from damaging free radicals."
To top it all off, no other foods provide the antioxidant benefits that coffee does, according to a study by the American Chemical Society. No wonder that's where Americans overwhelmingly get their daily dose of these important substances. This certainly makes a strong case for choosing to drink coffee every day.
You may be protecting your brain from disease when you drink coffee every day
If you drink coffee every day and are concerned about protecting your brain from disease, you're in luck, as noted by Dr. Donald Weaver, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute. "Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," he revealed in an interview with Medical News Today. Weaver and his team discovered that, and published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.
It's not the caffeine that's present in coffee that's responsible for this benefit, interestingly enough. Rather, it's the presence of a compound named phenylindanes (which increases as you roast the coffee beans) that protect the brain from the toxic proteins that contribute to brain disease. "It's the first time anybody's investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," added study co-author Dr. Ross Mancini. "The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream, or cross the blood-brain barrier."
It might be good for your memory if you drink coffee every day
It's not just avoiding serious diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease that drinking coffee every day can do for your brain. Additionally, your daily java can help to strengthen your memory, according to Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University. "We've always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans," he explained in an interview with Johns Hopkins Magazine. "We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours."
Specifically, the researchers gave study participants a dose of caffeine before looking at images, then showed them similar images the next day; those in the group given caffeine showed a better capacity for recognizing the images than those in the placebo group. "If we used a standard recognition memory task without these tricky similar items, we would have found no effect of caffeine," Yassa continued. "However, using these items requires the brain to make a more difficult discrimination." So the science is in: Caffeine improves your memory!
Your liver may thank you if you drink coffee every day
Yet another benefit of drinking coffee is that choosing to drink coffee every day could potentially protect you from liver disease. Specifically, if you consume alcohol regularly but also drink one to four cups of Joe daily, your chances at developing cirrhosis decrease dramatically, according to Dr. Arthur L. Klatsky, a researcher for Kasier Permanente. "Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis," he revealed in an interview with The Guardian. "And the more coffee a person consumes the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalized or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis."
Once again, it's not the caffeine in coffee that provides the benefit — that's still not fully understood. And don't go developing a coffee habit just to counteract your drinking, either, as Klatsky says that misses the point of the study. "We can't answer why this has happened," he continued. "The value of this study is that it may offer us some clues as to the biochemical processes taking place inside liver cells that could help in finding new ways to protect the liver against injury."
Drinking coffee every day that's unfiltered can increase your cholesterol levels
Are you keeping an eye on your cholesterol levels and are curious about the potential impact that drinking coffee every day might have one them? Well, the good news is that drinking regular, filtered coffee every day isn't going to harm you, or raise your LDL cholesterol. But if you're relying on a French press for your daily jolt, that's not the case, as noted by Rob van Dam, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. "We know that if you have unfiltered coffee, that there is a substance called cafestol that increases your cholesterol level," he shared in an interview with Today. "So if you drink it throughout the day, it can increase your risk of heart disease." The same applies for Turkish-style coffee as well.
You're probably okay if you only indulge in unfiltered coffee once in a while in moderation. "But if you drink it every day in huge amounts, it may have an effect on your cholesterol levels," van Dam continued. Who knew a filter could make such a difference?
If you're pregnant, drinking coffee every day might be harmful
It's very important for people to take good care of their bodies when they're pregnant, and that includes maintaining a healthy diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately for coffee lovers, caffeine might not be the best thing for you when you're pregnant, as noted by Rob van Dam, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. "We have concerns that high caffeine intake may be detrimental to the fetus," he confessed in an interview with Today. "Because the fetus can't metabolize caffeine very well — they don't have the ability to make it dissolve from the blood stream." That, in turn, can have a negative impact on the fetus, causing it to take in less nutrition.
To that end, van Dam advises anyone who's pregnant to be super mindful about caffeine. "So, for women who are pregnant, although the evidence is not conclusive, we do suggest limiting coffee consumption at this stage of life," he added. It's probably just for the best if pregnant women decide not to drink coffee every day and avoid a number of other beverages, too.
So how much coffee should you be drinking every day?
With all of the information that's available about coffee and its impact on your health, you might be hard-pressed to figure out how much of it you should drink every day. But according to Rob van Dam, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, there's no reason to get super stressed out about your java intake. "If you like coffee and you don't have a specific health condition, you can just kind of enjoy your coffee, regularly, as you like it," he explained in an interview with Today. "It's fine to drink three, four, five cups of coffee a day, at least based on what we have found on the research available." Phew!
Of course, if you have a medical condition that renders that not the best of ideas, you're probably better off abstaining, just in case it can cause problems. If you want to drink coffee every day, that's something to discuss with your doctor.
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