Coffee is the nation’s most loved beverage. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 190 million Americans consume coffee on most days of the week. But should we be drinking so much? What about the negative effects of coffee? Are they really something we need to worry about, or not?
As many as 190 million Americans consume coffee each day of the week. Some use it as a stimulant, others simply love the taste. However, there are some negative aspects surrounding coffee, particularly considering that millions of people are actually addicted to it.
Caffeine: Good Or Bad?
Coffee is a drug, which explains the negative effects of coffee. Drugs have an effect that gives out pleasure and beneficial responses. But like all drugs, the pleasurable effects wear off. A drug user will attempt to increase the dose until the initial desired effect returns. The problem with addiction is that is does not return, allowing consumption to get out of control.
In small doses, there is an argument for many benefits to coffee. Studies have determined that drinking coffee can increase alertness and help with physical exercise. Its stimulant effect is an obvious benefit. It does however come with some alarming side effects.
If the coffee consumed is fresh, organic and of a high quality, it can be a healthy and beneficial drink, especially if you combine it with coconut oil! The low quality variety – that is often dispensed from office vending machines – should be avoided. Coffee beans are heavily sprayed with pesticides, although there are many varieties that are not, and these are promoted as organic. Organic coffee is better than cheaper low-quality bean extracts.
Drank in small and occasional measures, coffee can be surprisingly good for us. But many consumers are drinking four or more cups per day, creating problems with side effects and health issues- the negative effects of coffee.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Stomach Problems
One of the first negative effects of coffee is that it can irritate the stomach. There are compounds and various acids within the bean that can cause stomach complaints. The lining of the small intestine can be irritated. People suffering from a range of stomach conditions are advised by doctors to limit or avoid coffee consumption altogether. This includes those with Crohn’s Disease, gastritis, stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Constipation and diarrhoea are also two common complaints of heavy coffee drinkers. Stress levels and the human digestive system are under attack when coffee is consumed in high and regular doses. Drinking coffee first thing after waking up, forces the body to create high levels of hydrochloric acid. This acid helps us digest. However, the body will struggle to produce this acid if it has to keep on creating it every time you drink a coffee.
The long term effect of not producing enough hydrochloric acid when eating a meal is particularly problematic. It can cause bloating, irritable bowels, indigestion and even colon cancer. Some may suffer from problems to the intestine; too much coffee can lead to tiny pockets being on the smooth digestive tube. When these pockets become infected, a condition called diverticulitis can manifest.
Heartburn and Dyspepsia
Acid reflux occurs when too much acid is produced in the stomach. It ‘escapes’ up into the chest, which is why you feel heartburn. Coffee has a tendency to relax the lower esophageal sphincter. This is a small muscle that is supposed to remain sealed. When it does its job right, it prevents acid from escaping back up into the esophagus. When this does happen, a burning sensation occurs as hydrochloric acid moves into the upper area around the chest. If the problem is long-lasting and serious enough, it can cause genuine damage to the lining of your throat.
Drinking decaffeinated coffee typically has no effect either way for those with acid reflux problems. Soda and energy drinks cause the same problem if you aren’t careful. Tea can help to alleviate this condition, especially decaffeinated tea.
Can Coffee Act as a Laxative?
Indeed it can. It stimulates the process inside the digestive system that helps to loosen bowel movement. If you were to drink more than one cup of coffee in quick succession, you can actually notice the effect almost straight away. It almost feels like the same gut feeling of food poisoning… Although, obviously, not as severe.
There are many people who use coffee as a natural laxative, even to lose weight. The laxative effect of coffee makes the digestive process incomplete. This makes it more difficult to absorb nutrients in from food. It can also bring about bowel irritation and even inflamed intestinal tracts.
Mineral Absorption Issues and the Effect of Coffee on the Kidneys
Regular and heavy coffee drinkers can have difficulty absorbing minerals in the food they eat. Taking mineral supplements or eating mineral-rich foods is often not enough.
This is down to the method in which coffee disturbs the absorption of iron in the stomach. It also affects the kidneys in such a way that they cannot retain calcium, magnesium and zinc. Mineral absorption is important, since it helps to support a healthy immune system.
Stress, Anxiety and Tension
Drinking large amounts of coffee will release a number of stress hormones. Cortisol is one of the main hormones that increases in the body after you consume coffee. The heart rate will increase, blood pressure goes up and the levels of anxiety and tension accelerate.
The body has a “fight or flight” response. This activates whenever you have too many stress hormones coursing through your body. It is true that drinking too much coffee has a notable effect on energy levels. However, this extra energy can often manifest itself into a kind of tense and nervous jitterbug type behaviour.
Negative Effects of Coffee: Should I Worry?
It is not good for coffee lovers to hear some of the health problems associated with this favourite beverage. But taken in moderation should prove to be perfectly fine for health.