7 Negative Effects of Coffee

7 Negative Effects of Coffee


Coffee is America’s favorite drug with around 180 million of us starting most days with a caffeine jolt to get going. Some people enjoy their coffee and apparently have no health issues with drinking it. There are however some potential negative effects of coffee, particularly at certain times and when it becomes so addictive that you find it difficult to go a day without it.

In small, occasional cups there is possibly a case to be made for some benefits to coffee. If it’s fresh, high-quality and ideally organic (regular coffee is one of the most pesticide intensive crops in the world) then a raft of studies have shown that it can improve alertness and long term it may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, gallstones, kidney stones and liver cirrhosis for heavy drinkers.

Conversely, in the longer term it has been associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Good-quality ground coffee is a source of antioxidants like chlorogenic acid that may help with weight loss and green coffee bean extract, particularly high in this antioxidant, are the latest popular supplement for body fat reduction.

Many of us though are having far beyond small or occasional cups, and instant coffee, or even worse, that murky stuff that comes out of the office coffee machine, is far from good-quality.

In fact, despite some potential longer term benefits, for many of us excessive coffee consumption may be having some very negative effects on our health in the here and now, particularly on our digestive system and stress levels.

Effects of Coffee


7 Side Effects of Drinking Coffee

1. Coffee and Hydrochloric Acid

Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning, stimulates hydrochloric acid production. This can be a problem because HCl should only be produced to digest meals. If your body has to make HCl more often in response to regular cups of coffee, it may have difficulty producing enough to deal with a large meal.

Protein digestion in particular is affected by a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and protein based foods can pass into the small intestine before being properly broken down. Undigested protein is associated in a variety of health problems, from bloating and gas to IBS, diverticulitis and even colon cancer.

In fact, the knock on effect of not digesting your food properly due to low hydrochloric acid in the stomach could be implicated in dozens of other health issues. Some experts go so far as to say almost all disease begins in the gut. Given this, you can see why it’s important to limit anything that interferes with its proper functioning.

2. Ulcers, IBS and Acidity

Many of the compounds in coffee like caffeine and the various acids found in coffee beans can irritate your stomach and the lining of your small intestine. It’s known to be a problem for those suffering from ulcers, gastritis, IBS and Crohn’s disease and doctors generally advise patients with these conditions to avoid coffee completely. The question is, could excessive coffee consumption contribute to these health issues in the first place?

Ulcers are believed to be caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. However, the acidic effect coffee has on the stomach may contribute to providing the weakened stomach lining necessary for H. pylori to take hold initially.

Drinking coffee can also irritate the lining of the small intestine, potentially leading to abdominal spasms, cramps and elimination problems, often alternating between constipation and diarrhea. This condition is known as irritable bowel syndrome and more and more people are being diagnosed with it in recent years.

If you are suffering from IBS, here is a plan for coffee replacement that deals with caffeine withdrawal. This plan also uses a replacement that is alkaline rather than acidic and may actually help to heal your digestive tract.

Read also: The Venus Factor Review

coffee health problems

3. Heartburn Problems

Acid reflux and heartburn can be caused by coffee due to the way it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter. This small muscle should remain tightly closed once you’ve eaten to prevent the contents of your stomach from coming back into the esophagus and burning its delicate lining with hydrochloric acid.

Caffeine is known to relax the esophageal sphincter so Coke and high caffeine ‘energy drinks’ can also contribute to heartburn, but coffee is particularly problematic for this.

Even decaf regularly causes heartburn problems for some people and researchers think other compounds in coffee can also contribute to acid reflux problems.

4. Coffee as a Laxative

Drinking coffee can stimulate peristalsis, the process in the digestive tract that makes us head for the bathroom. Some people use it deliberately as a laxative, but there’s a problem with this.

By stimulating peristalsis, coffee also appears to promote increased gastric emptying, whereby the stomach’s contents are quickly passed into the small intestines, often before the digesting food has been properly broken down.

In this partially digested state, it makes it much more difficult for nutrients to be absorbed from your food. It also increases the chances of irritation and inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract.

Once again, decaffeinated coffee has also been shown to have laxative and gastric emptying properties so it seems caffeine alone is not to blame.caffeine effects

5. Mineral Absorption, Your Kidneys and Coffee

Heavy coffee drinkers may have difficulty getting enough minerals in their diet, even if they eat mineral rich foods or take supplements. This is due to the way coffee affects iron absorption in your stomach and particularly your kidneys ability to retain calcium, zinc, magnesium and other important minerals.

While all of these minerals are vital for good health, from a digestive standpoint, any interference with magnesium absorption is particularly worrying as it is necessary to maintain bowel regularity and so many of us are already deficient in it.

If you are concerned that you might not be getting enough magnesium (and apparently around 70% of other people in the USA are in a similar position, whether they know it or not) then transdermal magnesium oil can be more effective than oral supplements, which usually have poor absorption rates.

6. Acrylamide in Coffee

Acrylamide is a potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substance that forms when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures. The darker the roast, the higher the levels of acrylamide are likely to be. In fact, coffee has been shown to be one of the major sources of this dangerous chemical in American diets.

If you would like to know more about acrylamide, the other main sources and ways to avoid it, see the page on the dangers of acrylamide.coffee negatives

7. Coffee, Stress and Tension

Drinking lots of coffee will promote the release of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These chemicals increase your body’s heart rate, blood pressure and tension levels – the old ‘fight or flight’ response.

We often say we need to drink coffee to give us energy. But for many of us, has it gone further than just energy and turned into a kind of jittery tension that is always on and makes it difficult to relax? Maybe it pushes you to get through the paperwork, but longer-term the health implications of this kind of ongoing stress are significant.

Turning on the stress hormones with a cup of coffee when you’re eating also interferes with the digestive process. When you’re in ‘fight or flight’ mode, your body will divert its resources to being ready for a potential threat and digestion suffers as a result.

Finally, the caffeine in coffee is known to interfere with GABA metabolism. Gamma-aminobutyric acid  is a neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood and stress levels. It should also have a calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

Your mood and your digestive system are surprisingly interrelated. Unfortunately, when you drink a lot of coffee the high levels of caffeine in it can negatively affect both of them.negative coffee effects

Conclusion

Many people are very protective of their coffee and probably won’t like to hear all of these health problems associated with it. But if you’ve made it reading this far, perhaps you have a feeling that there could be some value in cutting down a bit or even replacing it altogether.

If you are experiencing any of the digestive problems above, or just feel coffee has you too on edge but don’t know how to quit it, coming up next is a plan to replace the negative side effects of coffee with a new kind of drink that tastes similar but is actually healthy, as well as a simple way to reduce caffeine withdrawal problems when you make the switch.

Do you think you might drink a bit too much coffee, but that it’s become such a habit you find it hard to stop? Have you tried giving up coffee before, whether successfully or not? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on how coffee affects you personally and your experiences with trying to give it up.

Jim Dillan

Jim Dillan is health and wellness researcher, writing about natural nutrition, improving your physical and mental well-being and moving to a healthier lifestyle. His website Superfood Profiles has detailed articles on superfood health benefits, hair and skin treatments and healthy recipes.

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41 Comments

  1. Nhamo ariferi says:

    I take 1litre of coffee everyday but i am having a problem of ulcers and itz getting worse if i skip a day without it/try to reduce, i experiance headaches.wat can i do get rid of this problems.

  2. Cecilia says:

    Hi,
    I have tried to quit coffee many times and always failed, this time I’m more determined and stay motivated by reading these sort of publications to really ingrain in my brain how bad it is for you. I do experience heavy headaches every day that has not disappeared in 3 weeks. I have managed to quit cigarettes, alcohol and sugar but coffee is the worst! It only proves how addictive it really is..

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Cecilia and thanks for your comments.

      I found the caffeine withdrawal headaches can be greatly minimized with Ashwagandha tinctures to support your adrenal glands (that coffee has probably been overstimulating for far too long). This page has a plan for quitting coffee that I used with a similar tasting replacement that is actually good for you – http://www.healthambition.com/substitute-coffee-caffeine-withdrawal/ It can also be helpful to make sure you’re getting lots of magnesium in your diet as coffee is known to deplete this mineral and low levels may also lead to headaches.

      Hope this helps.

  3. Crystal says:

    You don’t actually have to quit drinking coffee altogether to avoid the negative side effects of it. I personally had to stop drinking it because of the way it would cause my stomach to get upset, but then I came across a coffee company called Organo Gold. I was skeptical about it until I actually tried it. It’s not acidic, and it’s infused with a health component called Ganoderma, which is a mushroom that benefits you health-wise from heart heath to losing weight, clearing up skin, etc. It also helps to balance out the caffeine so you don’t get a crash. It’s also been in use in Asia for thousands of years. I STRONGLY suggest trying this coffee as a healthier alternative for people who love coffee and want to improve their health at the same time. They also make hot chocolate, green tea, red tea, black tea as well.

  4. Akintola Gabriel says:

    I’ve been averaging four cups of coffee per day. recently I found that I can’t put my mind to work and my circadian rhythm is messed up. trying hard to get off coffee. any tips?

  5. Lisa says:

    I’m on my fourth day without coffee. I’m giving it up due to digestive problems. I switched to tea because it has less caffeine and will eventually switch to caffeine free. I was feeling tired and crabby the first three days, but I feel better today. Digestive problems have already improved.

  6. Charlene Maginn says:

    Hi Jim: Thanks for the important information that you are sharing with the world about something that is a complete an utter addiction here in Canada. In London, ON where I am from, you can actually get caught up in a traffic jam at particular times of the day due to people going through the “tim horton’s” drive through. I stopped drinking Tim’s about 6 yrs ago…and have been off caffeine for the most part over the last 20 yrs. However, I continued to drink decaf coffee…and then got onto a flavoured with a hazelnut vanilla because I had started to dislke the taste of “coffee” in and of itself. I did not know the extent to which coffee caused me grief…particularly in having to urinate beyond what any person could call normal. I had been to doctors/urologists etc and tried a number of solutions including a medication in June 2013. At the end of the day, what I ended up doing was completely giving up coffee (not at the recommendation of any doctor – in fact they never questioned my coffee drinking habit -which was only 2 cups/day in the mornings). I did not replace it with tea or alternative coffee…I just drink more water. What amazed me more than anything else, was my ability to “hold” my urine (which I had not been able to do for years) and not have to go 2-3 times per hour all day long!!! I cannot believe that coffee could have been such a culprit but in my case it’s true. As well, I find my tummy “aches” that I would get routinely and did not even recognize anymore – are gone! I believe coffee was a toxic chemical for me and I choose not to put it in my body anymore. Thanks so much for the article and the opportunity to speak about these things…as most people do not want to hear…especially if they have their own addiction to the substance. Take care

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Charlene and thanks for your comments.

      I too believe that a lot of people are having health problems with coffee and they aren’t aware that it is the culprit. Having written about this topic on several websites I’ve found people are very protective of America’s favorite drug and often don’t want to hear that it can be such an issue.

      It’s great to hear you were able to give up coffee successfully. The method I used, which includes a similar tasting, but actually healthy and alkalizing drink, is in this article – http://www.healthambition.com/substitute-coffee-caffeine-withdrawal/

      Best Regards and I hope your health continues to improve even more now that you’ve beaten the caffeine addiction.

  7. SollFire says:

    Fantastic information, Jim. Wish I had read it forty years ago, but found it post-addiction. My husband and I were clearly addicts, a fact we recognized many moons ago. Headaches (or the mere suggestion of them) kept us from pursuing feeble attempts to quit, over the years. What truly sparked near success was giving up Half ‘n’ Half. We realized it made even a bad cup of coffee “good” and deduced that it was the cream we were enjoying, not the java. This fact was proven further when we went to fat-free milk.

    Little by little and without issue, we eliminated all afternoon caffeine and got down to two morning cups. Now, we admittedly enjoy just the remaining first cup. It is a great thing to lose; I no longer fall asleep at night anxious for morning and a cuppa Joe. In fact, sleep issues have undoubtedly improved. Yippee.

    After reading your content, I’m seriously considering sending the remaining cup into oblivion where it can join salt and sugar.

    Regards.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hello there and thank you for your positive comments. I think you and your husband have done very well to cut right down on what can be a very addictive substance. The slow reduction method like this can work really well if you can stay focused on a gradual withdrawal.

      If you’d like to try two weeks caffeine free here’s exactly how I quit coffee without caffeine withdrawal headaches and with a similar tasting drink that I actually now prefer – http://www.healthambition.com/substitute-coffee-caffeine-withdrawal/

      Hope this helps and all the best for your continuing better health.

      Jim

  8. Alice says:

    Thanks for a great article, very thoughtfully written. I don’t think people often realize how coffee is affecting them. I think we’d all be a bit less impatient and irritable if we greatly reduced or got off coffee. I stopped after 35 years and notice a much higher tolerance or better coping with stress. My energy doesn’t spike and drop like it use to either. Thanks again!

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Alice and thanks for your comments.

      I totally agree with you. Once coffee has the fight or flight response switched on patience and calm actions can be very difficult. Some people do seem to handle it well but others don’t yet may be unaware of the problems it’s causing them or too addicted to think they can stop.

      Personally, I found giving it up quite easy and I wrote about how to do it here – http://www.healthambition.com/substitute-coffee-caffeine-withdrawal/

      It’s great you’ve had these benefits from giving up coffee. Hopefully more people will give coffee-free a try.

  9. Saeed says:

    Hi Jim Dillan,
    Seen all data about the negativity of coffee, but i am taking only one cup of black coffee since 1987 and feeling freshness and start my work full devotion and alertness, is it OK ??

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Saeed,

      Some people do seem to handle coffee much better than others. I think the test is whether the alertness has moved into tension and anxiety and whether you are having digestive issues. There are other possible negative effects but these are the most likely.

      You may personally tolerate it well, which is great, but some people do have problems with coffee and for them it’s well worth looking into how to quit it without withdrawal symptoms – http://www.healthambition.com/substitute-coffee-caffeine-withdrawal/

  10. mo says:

    Years ago I used to drink a lot of instant coffee and found that I was exhausted by the afternoon and even on a hot day I could not keep warm. I have recently found that I can enjoy a cup of fresh coffee without going through the afternoon slump or feeling cold even on a hot day. However, even though I have only been drinking one or two cups of fresh coffee per day I have started to get headaches, stress and joint pains. I working in a hospital and have noticed that my diastolic blood pressure has gone from 70′s to 80′s. The benefits I have had are that I feel much more alert but I am cutting right back to the occasional cup (about three cups per week) as I definitely feel it is having a negative effect on my health in a very short space of time. I won’t have any trouble cutting down on it as I do not drink that much but it has also caused me to have sleepless nights if I drink two cups of coffee later on in the day.

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Mo and thanks for your comments. It’s interesting that you were able to monitor your blood pressure and notice the difference. Trouble sleeping is also a common side effect of caffeine. I think limiting coffee consumption to the occasional times when you really need to stay awake is much better than amping up your adrenals daily out of routine.

  11. Paul M says:

    Hi Jim

    Great article indeed. Is coffee withdrawal the same as alcohol withdrawal? How would you advice one who want to give up alcohol?

  12. Andrei says:

    Hi, I’m 19 years old and I drink black coffee once a day. I’ve heard health benefits from it and I’ve heard side effects. Would sticking to a cup a day reduce the negative effects and still give you the health benefits needed? I heard people drink 4 to 6 cups a day, as I am not that extreme and have still managed a week without it, I’m hoping if it would still affect me. No biased answers please, I would appreciate a informative detailed opinion. Thank you :)

    • Jim Dillan says:

      Hi Andrei,

      There’s a potential case to be made for the antioxidant content of a small amount of high quality organic coffee. On balance, for all the reasons detailed in the article I think there are much better options.

      I too started at one cup occasionally but it wasn’t long before I was ‘needing’ several times a day so I came up with a plan to get over the addiction – http://www.healthambition.com/substitute-coffee-caffeine-withdrawal/

      I’m sure you can find many other detailed opinions to the opposite online, but these two articles are mine. I’d also question in light of recent research whether the whole premise of drinking coffee to stay alert holds that much water in the long term – http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/jun/02/drinking-coffee-alert-caffeine

    • Bill says:

      Hi. whether coffe is damaging for you or not is not easy to say, but one thing we do know is that drinking coffee purely for the health benefits is “no point” There are other substitutes that you can drink that will give you far more antioxidants than coffee. Check out chaga on google. It is a fairly new discovered herb that probably is the richest in antioxidants found in nature up until this day. And the best thing about it is that you can do some quick research and just walk into the woods and collect it for free as it is growing on trees in northern europe.

  13. Vaibhav says:

    Hi,
    Am drinking 1 large Mug of Cold Coffee almost daily . When the clock ticks 6pm in the evening i have tendency to run out of my office and end up to my nearest coffee store . Get my mug and then feel ok .

    I havent observed any side effect except the sleep thing which is mostly depends if i had a tiring day i will sleep inspite of the coffee content . Is one Mug of Cold Coffee okay or should i do it less or give it up completely . I have no digestive issues as such . Still would like to have your thoughts on my consumption habbit.

  14. abc says:

    usually I take one cup coffee In the morning just after the breakfast and i have started to take it from previous month(before this i just take milk) .Is it harmful for my body to take coffee once in a day?But actually i have got some positive result,i have loose 5 kg weight.

  15. Bridie says:

    Hi Im 16 yrs. old and I have started drinking coffee since I was 13. In the past 10 months I have become more addicted and have craved it a lot more significantly. Im like really in love with it and addicted to it, and I noticed it does give me IBS sometimes and makes my heart rate increase, as-well as making me more hyperactive. In the past 2 weeks I have had it more regular, at least once a day, sometimes I might have 3 cups. This is getting really out of hand and I am looking for some healthier alternatives, please.
    Thanks.

  16. Shikuto naga says:

    I am very much interested in this topic. I started drinking black coffee (regularly) since i left alcohol two months back and i drink 8 to 10 cups ( strong, without sugar ) a day. I have no health problems except gastric and i sleep well. But i think it will affect me in the long run but i cant seem to stop it and i feel that coffee is good for me, that it wont do me any harm….!! I know that my explanation is vague but i know that you got the gist of it. Any advice ???

    • cptzack says:

      This is my plan for my life, perhaps it will help you. BTW, I am 30.

      Most things in Moderation are beneficial. The secret lies in having a variety of things…so that one food’s negative effects can offset other foods.

      I drink coffee , maybe 2 cups a week, no sugar, no milk.

      Alcohol – same 2 times a week..extremely limited quantity.

      Cycling- 20 KM a day OR Walking 5 Km a Day – 5 days a week.

      and none of this is a rule…..sometimes I have a little bit more coffee or sometimes I dotn excercise, but over a period of time, it balances out. What keeps me doing this is the fact that – I have one life to live, and the extent to which I can enjoy my life is dependent on my health.

      I will increase my coffee intake as I grow older….because, coffee has benefits in old age – Prevents alzheimers for starters….but at the same, If I start late, then there wont be any time for the negative effects to show up.

      Fun fact. Did you know – Brad Pitt is older than Charlie Sheen?

      Regards
      30 Yr Male.

  17. Fat. says:

    I wish I can find something can help me to prevent coffee affecting my appetite :( whenever I drink only 1 cup after breakfast for like three days I start losing appetite step by step util I reach a level in a way even if am starving still can’t eat because my appetite doesn’t want to! Am skinny girl and not eating well and have three meals daily annoying me a lot so I forced my self not to drink it and just enjoy smell of it with others cups </3

    I might have it like once or twice during whole week so I prevent losing appetite,

    BTW my coffee not kind of dark coffee I used to have it with milk, mocha or Turkish with it's very small cup but still can harm me if I let myself into daily bases!

  18. Danny D Pham says:

    nothing mentioned about dependency and dehydration… those are really my 2 biggest problems right now from drinking too much coffee… feeling super tired and sleepy when i cant have my cup of joe is definitely a bad thing.

  19. James Smyth says:

    Yeah I’m never quitting, I love coffee too much and the taste alone cannot be replaced. Plus I feel 2 cups a day won’t kill me

  20. DHAN says:

    Hi,
    I used to drink 4-5 cups of coffee everyday since 8 months. Now I am feeling that i am addicted. If I do not drink feels weak and headache. Is that side effect of coffee? Do i need to quiet it?

  21. jeny says:

    Hi i take almost two litres of coffee. Not only do i drink but i also eat the coffee bits that i feel so gud about it.i have to order coffee all the way from uganda because i love the roughly ground bits amd even eat them after drinking.coffee is very expensive thou. But it takes me staright to sleep when am so exhausted. It refreshes me and also it relaxes me and takes me to sleep.some pipo tell me they take coffee to keep them a wake but not me. I wonder wats my fate with it although the coffee has helped me to cut down my weight and also helps for regular bowel movements.

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