Coffee is such a popular drink that it’s rare people question the negative side effects it has on their bodies.
Up until recently, I continued to drink my three cups a day, blissfully unaware of the drawbacks.
The negative effects of coffee are actually quite plentiful, though so are its benefits. Here is a list of the top 13 negative effects of coffee.
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#1 You might get stomach problems.
Sometimes you’ll hear older people say that they used to enjoy coffee but can’t do it anymore because it hurts their stomachs. There’s a perfectly scientific explanation for this. Coffee is an acidic drink, so when you put it in your stomach, your stomach becomes more acidic. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on the situation.
Increased acidity can help you digest food. So, if you’re eating well then drinking coffee should be no problem. In fact, it can even help you feel less bloated faster after a large meal. However, if you drink coffee with an empty stomach, you could get heartburn or even stomach ulcers. If you’ve ever had either, then you know that both are extremely unpleasant feelings.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to this problem. Before you drink your morning brew, eat a piece of toast to cushion your belly. This should be enough to prevent any issues.
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#2 It could mess with your mental health.
As with most good things, moderation is essential. If you drink too much coffee, you could give yourself anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, or restless sleep. There is such a thing as caffeine-induced sleep disorders, which include the inability to sleep, chronic fatigue, and even hallucinations in serious cases (1).
The two factors that contribute to this are when you drink your coffee and how much of it you drink. As long as you are drinking your coffee earlier in the day, and not drinking too much of it, you should be fine.
The other way that coffee may mess with your mental health is if you are taking medications for depression. Caffeine sometimes interacts with these medications in harmful ways, so if you are on anti-depressants, speak to your doctor before you take a risk by drinking coffee.
#3 You could gain weight.
This isn’t a side effect of coffee, directly. This is a side effect of how people like to drink coffee. Most people don’t drink their coffee black, and the milk and sugar that they add to their coffee is adding a lot of extra calories. If you look at the calorie counts at Starbucks, you might reconsider that double caramel latte with whipped cream on top (2).
As a weekend treat it’s fine, but if you’re a serious coffee drinker that is doing that every day, up to six or seven times a day, you could be adding over 2000 calories to your diet from coffee drinking alone! No wonder going to the gym doesn’t seem to be working.
Some ways to circumvent this negative effect are to drink your coffee without additives or to make your own healthier creamer. There are a lot of DIY creamer recipes out there that are low calorie, sugar-free, and still delicious. There are even vegan options. Otherwise, you’ll have to watch your coffee intake, or else take the hit to your waistline.
#4 You’ll need to poop.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s included on this list because it can sometimes become an inconvenience. Everyone who drinks coffee knows that it helps them go to the bathroom. This is great for people who are easily constipated and not as great if you’re grabbing coffee on a first date!
It’s happened to almost everyone who drinks coffee before. You’re already nervous about a first date or important meeting at work. You drink some coffee to perk you up so that you don’t appear zombie-like. Then, boom! Right in the middle of that date with the person you fancy or your important presentation to the board of directors, you feel the inescapable urge to go number two.
So, what is happening inside your body when you drink your favorite brew and find yourself heading to the bathroom shortly after? Coffee encourages the release of a chemical called gastrin, which stimulates the colon. This creates muscular contractions in the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to bowel movements. The next time you’re on a date or before that big meeting, try tea instead.
#5 You become addicted.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that caffeine is a drug, and that when we drink coffee we are the same as other people who are on drugs. Even though drinking coffee is much healthier than smoking cigarettes and does not have nearly as bad a reputation, caffeine is as much an addictive substance as nicotine.
When your body gets used to the high that coffee produces, then you can become dependent on it. Withdrawals happen when you don’t get your coffee fix. This can include symptoms like headache, fatigue, and irritability. Strangely enough, most people don’t even give this a second thought as they indulge in their morning brew. In reality, more than half of the world takes drugs every morning to wake up, and that drug is coffee.
Another interesting fact is that the more coffee you drink, the more you will need to keep getting that awake feeling that got you started in the first place. That is why people who start with one cup end up drinking five or six cups a day months later. They need it to keep maintaining their coffee high.
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#6 You are less fertile.
This one applies only to women. Drinking too much of the bitter brew could make it harder for you to get pregnant and keep a baby (3).
Studies show that women who drink three or more cups of coffee every day not only have a harder time getting pregnant, they also experience an increase in the chances of miscarriage after they become pregnant. That is why doctors advise that women who are trying to get pregnant or who are already pregnant drink no more than one cup of coffee per day, if any at all.
This is unfortunate for female coffee lovers, but thankfully it is a temporary thing. Once you have finished having your child, you can once again increase your intake of coffee to pre-pregnancy levels, and may in fact need to in order to keep up with your newborn.
#7 You might lose sleep.
Since we’re on the topic of losing sleep, everyone knows not to drink coffee at night because that will definitely keep you up. However, long-term drinking coffee can actually lead to changes in your sleep patterns. There is actually such thing as the caffeine-induced sleep disorder, which is basically insomnia produced by the consumption of our favorite drink.
What’s actually happening in your brain when coffee keeps you awake? Both slow wave sleep and REM sleep are reduced and disturbed, meaning you don’t sleep well during any part of the night. As mentioned before, this can lead to further mental disorders. But even if this lack of sleep doesn’t lead to anxiety or other mental health problems, it can still have a negative impact on your life.
Remember to drink coffee early on during the day instead of in the evenings and to not overdo it. Coffee is a drug, and it will harm you if you have too much of it.
#8 It could mess with your medication.
Since it’s a drug, it’s important to note that caffeine interacts with several types of medication. Some of these include Cipro, Tagamet (for heartburn), thyroid medications, and drugs used to treat depression. Definitely talk to your doctor if you’re on any kind of drug and make sure you’re able to drink coffee before you take the plunge (4).
#9 It might raise your cholesterol.
Depending on how you make your coffee, it could raise your cholesterol levels. If you have issues with high cholesterol than it is advised that you drink filtered coffee because filtering the coffee traps most of the LDL cholesterol.
There are other chemicals in coffee that have been shown to raise cholesterol levels which do not get blocked out by filters. However, those chemicals have also been shown to help prevent cancer, so it might be a positive trade-off.
#10 You could lose focus.
Even though the whole point of coffee is that it wakes you up and gives you the ability to focus, drinking too much of it leads to jitters and symptoms similar to attention deficit disorder. This comes with a whole host of unwanted results, including damaged work performance, inability to enjoy the company of your friends and family, and general discomfort. Anyone who’s ever overdosed themselves on caffeine will tell you it isn’t a pleasant experience.
Again, the simple solution is enjoyment in moderation.
#11 It can cause bone loss.
If you are a woman who has already undergone menopause, then drinking too much coffee and not taking enough calcium could cause your bones to weaken. Coffee reduces your ability to absorb calcium in some cases, so people who are already at risk of not consuming enough calcium to maintain bone strength need to beware. A study on postmenopausal women showed that those who drank three or more cups of coffee a day and did not eat enough calcium in their diet saw spinal bone loss (5).
Although older women are more at risk, bone loss could happen to anyone who simply does not have enough calcium in their diet. So, if you love coffee, make sure you’re taking calcium supplements as well!
#12 You could poison yourself by accident.
This is a negative aspect of coffee that could happen with any other food as well. However, while most people know the look and smell of bad meat and vegetables, it’s harder to tell when your coffee is bad. Bad coffee is just as toxic as any other kind of food item that has gone bad. It can make you sick, causing headaches or stomach aches. The problem with coffee is that it comes dark and dried as whole beans or pre-ground, which makes it very difficult for the average person to know when they’re about to poison themselves.
The best solution to this is to purchase high-quality coffee from a brand that you trust. When it comes to your health, it is better to spend a little extra to be safe than risk getting sick.
#13 You could kill yourself (though it would take a lot of effort).
The average amount of coffee it would take to kill a person is 80-100 cups in a short period of time. This varies due to different body sizes and rates of metabolism. Drinking that much coffee would result in a lethal dose of 10 – 13 grams of caffeine inside your body. However, it’s more likely that you would throw up before getting that much coffee inside of you because that much liquid is more than the body can take in at one time. Even drinking that much water, if it isn’t ejected, can kill you.
Did this list of negative effects change your mind about enjoying coffee? I hope not. Drinking coffee has more benefits than drawbacks as long as you remember to enjoy it in moderation. It is only when you over-do it that the negative side effects become severe.
What do you think about the negative effects of coffee? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and remember to share this article with your fellow coffee drinkers!
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Daily Cupo, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.