Is It Bad To Have Coffee Every Day?
Do you drink coffee? If so, listen up. Today, I'm going to be talking about whether it is good or bad to be drinking coffee every day.
And this is definitely one of the most common questions that I get as a registered dietitian. So before we dive into that, I'm going to share with you the research-based health benefits, and health concerns. We're going to talk about how much, and then at the end, we're even going to talk about pregnancy, that controversial topic of "is coffee okay during pregnancy?"
I'm Ashley Oswald, registered dietitian and founder of Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas, bloat, diarrhea, and or constipation. And if you, or if you know somebody who wants to become a client of ours, you can schedule an appointment with us and we can get started there. So without further ado, let's dive right in and talk about coffee.
What is good about drinking coffee?
So we have research to show that first of all, obviously coffee can help with mental alertness. It can also help possibly with preventing gallbladder disease. It can help with type two diabetes, weight loss, and some research on Parkinson's disease.
It can even help to prevent cardiovascular disease. And this one, I want to share a little bit because the research and you might see that it might make cardiovascular disease, heart, and vessel disease, the fancy word for that, worse. But this is because it does raise cholesterol and it can raise that LDL cholesterol which is known to be the bad cholesterol.
But what we now know is that LDL cholesterol could be large/buoyant or small/dense. And when it's large and buoyant, it actually can help decrease the risk. So the components of coffee actually make both cholesterol particles larger.
So it can make it transition from smaller dense particles to larger buoyant, which can actually decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Coffee can also increase mTOR which can increase autophagy, and this is what people are wanting when they intermittent fast. So that's why you might see articles often mixing coffee with fasting because it only helps us support that.
And basically, autophagy helps to get rid of old, dead cells in the body, really kind of like the clean sweep of the body. And then lastly, coffee does have some components that can help to decrease lipopolysaccharides. This is known as LPS and just hang in with me, I'll simplify it.
And this can be created if somebody has a leaky gut or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and it can harm the liver and the brain. So you're going to want that to decrease. And the chlorogenic acid in coffee can help to decrease that.
And then last but not least, we have a population study on 4 million international individuals where we found that daily, consistent coffee consumption did lead to an eight to 28% reduction in all-cause mortality basically simplifying terms. This means the prevention of chronic disease. So all sounds great, right?
Risks and downsides of coffee consumption
But what are the risks? What are the downsides and what are the concerns about coffee consumption? That we're going to talk about next.
So, first of all, too much coffee, you might've experienced this at some point in your life can lead to headaches. It could be the cause of ear ringing. It could cause nausea and vomiting.
It could cause gastric distress, which is basically an upset stomach. It can cause a laxative effect. So if you're drinking too much, you might be getting too much of that laxative effect. So basically loose stool diarrhea.
It can cause diuresis, which is basically too much and quicker urine output, which could lead to dehydration; subtle effect though. Not as much as people think, but if you're drinking a lot of coffee over a long period of time, these are some of the concerns.
Certainly, one that we pay attention to most in our clinic is sleep because sleep is so foundational. And if somebody is drinking too much coffee, too late in the day, it could start to negatively impact their sleep. Sleep, we can make a whole video on how that's important for gut health and why, but it can really lead to this really negative cascade because then you're tired or drinking more coffee, your sleep getting even worse.
Also, if you have a food sensitivity or food intolerance to coffee, of course, that's going to have a negative impact on you. So you'll want to avoid it then. Coffee can also relax the esophageal sphincter.
So our esophagus and our stomach, we have a little sphincter there. And if it gets too relaxed that stomach acid, which our stomach is supposed to be naturally acidic, can come up and start to cause some burning like indigestion. And so coffee can only make that worse.
So if you've been diagnosed with GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or just have acid reflux, you'll want to know that that could be making it worse. We have a little bit of research showing that too much could put somebody at risk for having H pylori, a bacterial infection in the stomach. So if you have a long history of that, know about that and be a bit more careful.
If you have a genetic polymorphism called MTHFR, coffee six plus cups a day, so a lot, could increase the homocysteine too high of homocysteine could put somebody at risk for dementia, stroke, heart disease, but that's, you know, nutrition is not always black and white because for this, you also need adequate vitamin B12 and B6 and folate to help break down the homocysteine as well. So there's often a lot to the picture, but just one more consideration for too much coffee.
And then lastly, you've probably heard about mold concerns from coffee, which certainly could be true with natural sun-dried. If it's a very moist climate that that coffee is grown in, and if the workers aren't properly rotating it, it could put the coffee at risk for mold contamination. But if it's done well, it's totally fine. It's a lower risk than I think is often shared online as far as mold contamination in coffee.
And that comes kind of directly from Bootstrap Coffee's owner you know, a well-known coffee company in Minnesota. So, it's good to know if you're really struggling with mold issues. Maybe you lived in a moldy apartment or had exposure somewhere else, and you're really trying to clean your body of mold contamination.
Just know that this could be a source because when you're going through that process, you want to try to decrease the mold exposure you're getting from your food sources as you allow your body to heal. Then certainly number one is getting out of the moldy environment. Okay.
So hate to be a Debbie downer, but I hope that information was really helpful to help you realize the potential benefits, and potential risks, because it's always individualized at our clinic, we're always personalizing the nutrition plan. So we don't tell all of our clients don't drink coffee or all of our clients drink coffee because it really has to be specific to what's going on with you.
So let's next talk about the caffeine content of coffee. And this is going to be important for the conversation about how much to drink during the day and how much is too much. So to start, a myth I like to bust is that, light roast coffee has less caffeine than medium roast and dark roast because A this is true, but B it's true, but it really in the big picture, doesn't make that much of a difference because let me explain it to you.
Light roast has 92 milligrams per serving and then medium and dark roast has 93, 1 milligram. That's like nothing. That's like a really mini sip of coffee. So all the roasts have about the same amount of caffeine.
However, the way that you make the coffee at home or at the coffee shop is going to make the biggest difference as far as how much caffeine is going to be getting into the cup that you end up drinking. French press is going to have the most caffeine because if you think about it, you're grinding the beans. It's being exposed to the water for about five minutes.
And then you're just pushing down on a strainer that does not have paper or cloth that it has to strain through. So a lot of those healthy fats and antioxidants and other nutrients are kept in the coffee and all that caffeine has an opportunity to absorb into the water.
And then when you drink it, you're getting that. So in comparison, if you're having espresso, that water is running through the espresso pretty quickly. And so it doesn't have as much time, the coffee to water exposure.
So it's going to be lower in caffeine. And then whenever you're filtering your coffee through like a paper filter, a cloth filter, you're going to be losing beneficial nutrients. Because if you think about it from the kind of a common sense standpoint, that coffee is going to be losing those fats are going to get caught in the paper.
Some of the phytonutrients and other nutrients will be getting caught in that before it ends up in your cup. So for the most nutritious coffee, you're going to want to A: buy from a good fresh source. B: grind your beans at home right before you prepare the coffee and then C: make it in a French press. Now, if you want the lower caffeine content, either drink a smaller amount or you could opt for an espresso or an Americano.
Alright, so let's get to the big question of the day, how much coffee should you be drinking every day? What is safe? So according to Health Canada, and then a big meta-analysis from the United States, which meant analysis basically means a big accumulation of all the research that we have.
In some meta-analysis, we found that adults drinking less than or equal to four cups of coffee a day, which would provide about 400 milligrams of caffeine, are not at risk for having adverse health outcomes and are not at risk of having any sort of like cardiovascular or bone or behavioral negative effects from the coffee. So in other words, again, it's safe and benign for most people to be drinking less than or equal to four cups of coffee or 400 milligrams of caffeine per day.
Now rewind the video if you need to, because still look at all those potential negative health effects from coffee. Because again, if four cups are causing you to have sleep issues and for you, you're going to want to drink less. And if you want help navigating this, just schedule an appointment with us.
But a six-ounce cup of coffee, which, you know, if I have this one here, maybe six ounces is to that. So watch the mugs you're using, especially in the United States. Sometimes it's like two cups of coffee in one mug.
So six ounces would be about right there, has about 60 to 120 milligrams of caffeine. So you can use that in comparison to the 400 milligrams you should be staying under. And then also we know that two to four cups of coffee a day can decrease all-cause mortality.
So if you want to be super safe, just keep it under two cups a day. And then in regards to the sleep and some of those big concerns, you could try keeping your coffee consumption to like before 9:00 AM or before 10:00 AM. So it has an opportunity to leave your system.
I will do one big caution here. If you cut out coffee cold turkey like you're drinking a lot, then one day you say, I'm just going to do this caffeine holiday that Ashley talked about. First of all, just don't do that.
You're going to probably be miserable the first few days and be getting headaches and all sorts of like withdrawal symptoms. So you're going to want to just taper off. Maybe it's like a week to just taper your coffee, and caffeine down, and then do your full one-week coffee holiday, just so that you're not making yourself miserable.
Now we're going to talk about pregnancy next, but first I want to make a brief share that we have a FREE GUIDE: 5 ways to improve gut health and people gave us really great feedback on this guide. It's things that we talk about and we use in our clinic, functional medicine approaches that most people haven't really thought about or explored and how they could help to improve their gut health. So I would really encourage you if you're struggling with gut health issues to just download that free guide.
Pregnancy is so controversial, right? So I'm just going to share the research. I'm a registered dietitian. We're very research-based and then, of course, every mom has to make the decision that feels right for them, as far as how conservative or safe, they want to be during pregnancy because here's the thing, the caffeine, it does cross the placenta. So it does get exposed to the embryo, to the baby.
However, it's not thought to be harmful and per the research we have, it is safe to consume for a woman who's pregnant up to 300 milligrams of caffeine, which would be if you're playing it safe to say two cups of coffee, but really technically it's about three. But again, when we think about the mugs that most people are drinking, this size mug is probably closer to about one and a half to two cups.
So less than 300 milligrams, less than two to three cups a day does not for the research seem to increase the risk of anything like stillbirth or abortion or any negative effects on the baby. I hope that's helpful.
Let's talk about breastfeeding. So lactation and what amount of caffeine might be safe with that? So for breastfeeding, about one to two cups of caffeine a day. It stays under what we feel is unacceptable for the amount of caffeine in breast milk.
But again maybe a mom says she wants no caffeine in her breast milk then she's just going to avoid coffee. That's cool too. But per the research one to two cups, it does not seem to have adverse effects on breastfeeding.
Hope you learned a lot about today's topic! Have a nice day and see you at the next one!
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
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