The chances are that you saw the title of this article and winced a little. Usually, things which are enjoyable bring negative side effects to our bodies. Alcohol, chocolate and fast-food are all fine examples of things which are enjoyable at the time but have negative long-term side effects on your health. So how does coffee compete with these ‘naughty’ foods and drink?

Drinking coffee is a great way to stay alert, both physically and mentally. It helps wake you up in the morning and aids your productivity, and help relieve workplace stress. Many of us drink up to 5 cups of the coffee a day, in various forms, from a black coffee to a mocha, or even one of those frozen coffees you can get from Starbucks. No matter how you like to mix it up, you need to be aware of the impact drinking coffee is having on your body.

Starting with the negative things about coffee…

One big rumour about coffee being bad for you comes from the effect it has on raising blood pressure. Although a temporary increase in blood pressure does occur, it is only really a problem if you already have naturally high blood pressure or are pregnant. Research suggests that limiting coffee consumption to 2 cups a day should reduce the harm coffee has on your baby’s health.

As with most things, too much coffee is bad for you. If you consume too much coffee (over 5 cups a day) you increase the likelihood of thinning of bone marrow. This impacts on how susceptible you are to a fracture, so, particularly for the elderly, keep coffee consumption to a sensible level.

The other side effect which many people experience when they begin drinking coffee is an inability to fall asleep. Often, this is because coffee (or anything with caffeine in it) has been consumed too soon before sleep. To overcome this, I like to stop all caffeine consumption after 2pm each day, but remember that this affects different people differently.

So if they are the main negative impacts of drinking coffee, what about the positive side effects?

Coffee’s positive side effects

There are some surprising findings in the benefits of drinking coffee regularly which I think you will find comforting:

  • The British Coffee Association states that coffee can reduce the risk of fatal liver disease by up to 40%, with the most significant improvements being seen in people with already damaged livers…
  • The chances of developing type II diabetes, the UK’s fastest growing type of diabetes, are shown to be reduced with regular consumption of coffee.
  • Colorectal cancer is the world’s 3rd most commonly found cancer, and although research findings are mixed, there is a common trend showing a reduction in the chances of developing this type of cancer by around 20-50%.
  • According to further research, regular coffee drinkers may have less of a risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease in later life – by as much as 60%!

There is no doubt that the findings here are pleasantly surprising. So if you were worried about drinking coffee, remember the facts above and how they are in your favour.

How you can make the most out of drinking coffee

Finally, there are a few simple things to remember when drinking coffee. You will want to invest in a decent coffee machine as instant coffee can be highly processed. This will reduce the amount of benefit you receive. Stick to 2-4 cups a day unless you suffer from high blood pressure or are pregnant, in which case, ask your GP about the level of coffee is safe for you to consume.

Coffee has a positive impact on your health and should be enjoyed. Each cup can help your body in the long-term just as much as it does in the mornings and through your average day. Keep a check on how much coffee you are drinking and enjoy every sip.

Useful Links:

National Archives on caffeine

The British Coffee Association

What makes a good coffee?

Featured photo credit: Close-up of a wonderful cup of hot coffee via Shutterstock and inline photo by anthony_p_c via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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