Remember: Caffeine is a drug, says Steven Meredith, a researcher in behavioral pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
While low to moderate doses are generally safe, caffeine is addictive and users can become dependent on it and find it difficult to quit or even cut back, he says. (Caffeine dependence was even named as a new mental disorder this year.) Anyone who's ever quit cold turkey knows it can trigger pounding headaches, mental fuzziness, and fatigue for a couple of days until the body adjusts.
Other effects of too much caffeine:
It increases anxiety and disrupts sleep patterns, leading to a vicious cycle of restless sleep, relying on caffeine to help with daytime fatigue, followed by more insomnia.
It increases blood sugar levels, making it harder for those with type 2 diabetes to manage their insulin, according to several studies; it also can slightly raise blood pressure. If you have difficulty controlling either your blood pressure or diabetes, switching to non-caffeinated coffee may help.
Caffeine potentially leads to some spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women if they typically drink more than three cups, or 300 mg of caffeine, a day, but don't get enough calcium in their diet. An older woman should make sure she gets at least 800 mg of calcium daily — through food or supplements — to offset caffeine's effect on calcium.
Coffee itself can also mess with your stomach. If you have problems with acid reflux or heartburn, then coffee and even tea might not be right for you.
And if you have high cholesterol and you don't want your coffee adding to the problem, you need to use a paper filter to trap the cafestol, a compound in coffee that raises LDL cholesterol levels, says van Dam.
Here's what you need to know if you have a touchy tummy
Coffee's not your friend if you're prone to heartburn. Coffee is highly acidic and is irritating to the gastrointestinal tract. Switching to decaf won't help: In fact, some research has found that decaf increases stomach acid even more than caffeinated coffee. Neither will be switching methods of brewing or roasting. Avoiding coffee is the only solution.
Caffeine's not your friend if you have acid reflux. Caffeine seems to be the main culprit by relaxing the sphincter muscle that normally keeps stomach acid from bubbling up the esophagus. Decaf coffee has significantly less of a reflux effect, studies have found.
The best way to counteract bad consumption habits is to know what the healthier options are.
Roasted Rice Coffee's sweet and refreshing taste offers a unique alternative to caffeinated coffee’s bitter taste, and it’s packed with nutrients that can provide some of the same benefits (without the negatives).
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