Coffee has become a staple in many British households - the British Coffee Association (BCA) estimates that 80% of all UK homes have some form of instant coffee in their kitchen cupboard.
It seems like we’re a nation that can’t get enough of a caffeine kick either - the BCA found that 16% of people who enjoy a visit to a coffee shop, do so on a daily basis.
But is this regular coffee consumption a good habit, or one we should be trying to kick? Find out more about:
Is coffee good for you?
- Preventing the effects of Parkinson’s disease
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Lowers the risk of some cancers, like liver cancer
- Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Improves mental health
- Improves focus and concentration
- Eases headache and migraine symptoms
However, there are some risks associated with being a coffee drinker too.
How much caffeine is in coffee?
An average cup of filter coffee contains approximately 95 mg of caffeine. To put that into perspective, the NHS recommends a healthy adult consumes a maximum of 400 mg of caffeine a day, and pregnant women just 200 mg a day.
This would suggest that - based on caffeine - having a maximum of three cups a day wouldn’t be harmful to our health. But the effects of caffeine can be felt differently from person to person, and sometimes just a couple of cups can be enough to have a negative impact.
Is coffee bad for you?
The amount of coffee people drink has a huge impact on its side effects, as you can imagine. Even though it’s recommended that we can drink up to four cups of coffee a day, people have different sensitivities to caffeine, and increased caffeine intake can cause:
Caffeine withdrawal occurs when you suddenly stop drinking your usual amounts of coffee, if you’re a regular drinker.
Caffeine withdrawal can cause:
To avoid this, you should try and moderate your daily caffeine intake (ideally to no more than three coffees a day).
Caffeine addiction can have one particularly disruptive side effect, too - insomnia (or other sleep disruptions).
Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system. It keeps you alert, in part, by blocking the a chemical that causes sleepiness, called adenosine. Primarily though, it suppresses melatonin. Melatonin controls your sleep-wake cycle (naturally encouraged by light levels) but caffeine has a huge disruptive effect on this.
So if you’re drinking too much coffee, or drinking it too close to bedtime, it might be the cause of your sleeplessness.
Amplifies high blood pressure
Despite not causing heart conditions as much as previously thought, caffeine can still raise blood pressure slightly. This is thought to be a short-term effect, but people with pre-existing blood pressure issues should be wary about their caffeine intake.
Too much caffeine can upset your stomach, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea if you consume over your daily recommended amount.
Women who are pregnant should look to reduce their caffeine intake to a maximum of 200mg a day (which is one cup of coffee a day, at the very most).
Caffeine can cause developmental issues in a baby, or - at its worst - miscarriage. This is why pregnant women should be very careful about their coffee consumption, and switch to decaffeinated coffee if they’re craving the taste.
If you’re trying to conceive, caffeine may also be disrupting your efforts by affecting oestrogen levels. Try and cut down to 200 mg a day if you’re trying for a baby.
Should you drink coffee?
For the millions of people who get their caffeine kick every morning, coffee is absolutely fine - if not quite good for us - in moderation, drank well before bed. People with heart conditions, who are pregnant or who are experience high levels of stress or anxiety should think about reducing, or eliminating, it from their diets, to avoid negative side effect.