The Real Cost of Coffee: 5 Facts

Coffee is a staple of the American lifestyle. The coffee bean is said to have been discovered by a goat herder in ancient Ethiopia, it is believed that he noticed his goats becoming hyperactive after eating berries from a particular tree. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way all the way to New York via the British.

A 2018 survey indicated 64% of Americans age 18 or over reported having drank at least 1 cup of coffee the previous day. The internet is flooded with misleading information about the supposed health benefits of coffee; a quick Google search of “the health benefits of coffee” will bring up a multitude of articles claiming that coffee can strengthen DNA, fight depression, and even lower your risk of Cancer.

These claims, mostly cherry-picked from single studies, are speculative at best. Furthermore, research shows that the health risks of coffee far outweigh its supposed health benefits.

These risks include the fact that…

1. Coffee is addictive

Coffee doesn’t actually give you energy, instead, it prevents your brain from recognizing your tiredness by blocking its adenosine receptors. Once the caffeine wears off, the adenosine receptors recognize your tiredness again causing you to crash. Over time, the brain grows more and more adenosine receptors to cope with the constant blockage, building a natural tolerance and in effect, dependence on coffee for energy.

2. It can cause stress

Coffee is also known to affect overall stress-levels in the body. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that, “After 5 days of caffeine abstinence, caffeine challenge doses caused a robust increase in cortisol across the test day.” High cortisol levels can lead to a condition called Cushing syndrome, which can cause depression, anxiety, and irritability.

3. It can raise blood pressure

Many doctors recommend people avoid coffee before having their blood pressure checked, especially in occasional coffee drinkers. People currently suffering from hypertension are particularly vulnerable to the effects of coffee on blood pressure, and studies indicate that caffeine can stiffen arteries and cause a noticeable rise in systolic blood pressure. If you suffer from hypertension, ask your doctor if cutting coffee out of your diet might help lower your blood pressure.

4. It can cause stomach problems

Coffee can cause a series of gastrointestinal issues including stimulating stomach acid production to cause indigestion, heartburn, and GERD. It can also cause the body to digest too quickly as it encourages the stomach to release its contents into the small intestine before they are metabolized, which can cause painful inflammation.

5. It can cause dehydration

Coffee is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of water and salt expelled from the body as urine. People who drink coffee before working out or live in hot, dry climates are at a higher risk of dehydration. It is recommended that regular coffee drinkers supplement their hydration with non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day.

Coffee isn’t poison, and for some, it can be extremely helpful in staying alert and productive. However, coffee should be consumed in moderation to avoid potentially harmful side effects.