In this 2-part series I discuss:
- Caffeine's positive uses
- Effects of short- and long-term consumption
- Downsides of caffeine use
- How to know if coffee is right for you
- Gentle ways to reduce your consumption, if you choose to
Already read part 1? Skip to part 2, here.
Coffee – is it “good” for us, or is it “bad”? Ah, the age old question. Do a quick Google search and coffee aficionados everywhere will be delighted to discover an abundance of research articles at their fingertips, all proselytising with near-rabid excitement the health benefits of drinking coffee. These studies link drinking coffee with reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and just about every disease under the sun. If all you did were look at the top search results for research on coffee drinking, you’d be convinced that coffee is a very healthy substance indeed.
Add to this the recent bulletproof coffee craze in which coffee is marketed as the biohacker’s ultimate weapon. Creator Dave Asprey goes so far as to say that bulletproof coffee is “a gateway drug for taking control of your biology”. The butter and coffee concoction is promoted as a breakfast-replacing superfood that not only enhances cognitive performance, but also extends your life span.
So should everyone be drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day? Not so fast. One thing that’s important to understand about scientific research is that it deals in averages. In a typical study cohort, there may be a bunch of people who drink coffee and experience reduced risk factors for cardiovascular risk, whilst for others there are increased risk factors. When it comes to answering the coffee question, individual differences are what we should consider, rather than simply “the research”.
In the same way that other current dietary trends (like intermittent fasting, ketogenic or low carbohydrate diets) benefit some people whilst actually deteriorating the health of others, the effects of coffee on health aren’t the same for everyone and depend on a number of very individual factors. These factors include genetics, metabolism, and current health status.
In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of coffee use. I’ll explain how your body responds to coffee intake, the stress response it elicits, and the impacts in various systems of your body. Then you can decide whether or not coffee consumption is right for you, and if you do decide to reduce your intake, I’ll explain how you can do so with minimal unpleasant symptoms.