Is Coffee Bad For You?

Is Coffee Bad For You?

Ahh, coffee! As I sit here writing this with my essential morning coffee in hand, it’s hard to imagine getting through a working day without a warm mug of strong brew.  I didn’t used to be like this, my coffee addiction only manifested itself last year, and before that I used to shudder at the thought of sipping on the bitter brew, but I have a confession to make…in the past year I have become a coffee fiend. However, is my new habit bad for my health, or is my coffee guzzling a valuable part of a balanced diet?

Benefits of Drinking Coffee

  • Increases Brain Function: Caffeine is a stimulant which blocks the function of adenosine, a neurotransmitter in our brain, which then increases brain activity and increases other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine which make us feel more awake and alert, fighting off fatigue. Just what we need when it comes to the 3pm slump in work!

  • May Protect Against Certain Diseases: Coffee has now been shown to have an association with the prevention of certain diseases and conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Type Two Diabetes and even Liver Disease. Although it should be noted that even though the research is strong, it is still emerging, so we shouldn’t take this as a sign to start guzzling down buckets of coffee every day. We should still drink it in moderation.

  • Other Beneficial Components: Caffeine is not the only positive component of coffee. Coffee also contains Antioxidants and Diterpenes. Antioxidants are known for defending cells against damage by inhibiting oxidation. Diterpenes are a bit more complex, as it is said the level in coffee depends on the brewing, and the compounds may be retained in the filter paper. However, although Diterpenes themselves get a bad reputation when it comes to cholesterol, they may actually help protect against some cancers.

Downsides of Coffee

  • Can disrupt Sleep: I’m a divil for reaching for a cup of coffee in the afternoon, which research shows we should not be doing if we want to get a good night’s sleep.  It is recommended that you stop drinking coffee 8 hours before your bedtime. Also, caffeine is not an alternative to good quality sleep, so don’t neglect getting a good night of quality shut eye.

  • Can Cause Anxiety: Sadly many people today suffer from anxiety and caffeine may actually make it worse. Too much caffeine can cause jitteriness, heart palpitations and can even worsen panic attacks, and as everyone’s sensitivity to caffeine is different, it may be useful to cut down on coffee if you are experiencing any of these side effects.

  • Too Much Can be Harmful to Unborn Babies: Too much caffeine can cause harm to unborn babies, so while an average person should drink no more than 400mg of caffeine a day (around 4 cups of instant coffee) a pregnant woman should have no more than 200mg a day, with many people considering it safer to just avoid caffeinated drinks during pregnancy. High levels of caffeine during pregnancy can lead to low birth weights and increase the chances of health problems in later life and can sadly increase the risk of miscarriage.

  • What We Add to Coffee Can Make it Less Beneficial: When I talk about coffee here I’m talking about no-fuss black coffee. Unfortunately, due to well known coffee shops and clever marketing ploys, we are often persuaded to buy a Venti Caramel Macchiato with extra syrup and whipped cream when really, to see the benefits of coffee we should be sticking to our Americanos. Some coffee drinks in popular coffee shops can contain north of 400 calories, due to all the added cream, sugar and syrups. Even if you make your own coffee at home or in the office, you’re not safe! If you were to have two coffees a day, with 2 teaspoons of sugar and a good bit of milk, you would be adding up to an extra 124 calories to your diet a day, which adds up to a whopping 45,260 calories a year! So aim to stick to black coffee or coffee with a small dash of milk.


Like everything, coffee can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, and may even be beneficial to us. However, if you are feeling any adverse effects from drinking coffee, or find it makes you anxious or affects your sleep, then maybe it’s time to cut down. Also, if you are unsure about your coffee habits and how they affect your Nutrition, book in for one of our free consultations and we would be happy to chat with you.

Now put the kettle on and grab a healthy snack!

Raw Energy Nut Bar Healthy Meals Delivered by GourmetFuel
Protein Brownie Healthy Meals Delivered by GourmetFuel
Cranberry and Chocolate Granola Bar Healthy Meals Delivered by GourmetFuel
Chickpea Cookie Healthy Meals Delivered by GourmetFuel

If you need help with your nutrition, why not have a chat with one of our registered nutritionists.

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About the Author:

Katie is a registered Associate Nutritionist with the UKVRN through the Association for Nutrition. Katie completed her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Health in Glasgow Caledonian University and her Bachelors Degree in UCD in Health and Performance Science. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked in a kitchen catering company, and for Our Lady's Hospice Harolds Cross and is heavily involved with UCD Boxing Club. Her areas of interest are Vegetarian diets, disease prevention and Sports Nutrition.

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