Ask one person in the nutrition field and they'll tell you coffee is the devil incarnate, ask another and they'll say coffee is great for a myriad of things. So, what's the truth?   

Read below for a list of caffeine quirks and perks. Now, spend the next week evaluating how you do feel after a cup (or three) of different forms of caffeine, including coffee, black tea, and green tea. How do you feel? If you realize caffeine doesn't realize suit you, seek support on letting it go gently.

Caffeine Quirks:

  1. Cardiovascular Problems: Caffeine increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure, and can contribute to the development of heart disease.
  2. Stress: Caffeine stimulates the excretion of stress hormones, which can produce increased levels of anxiety, irritability, muscular tension and pain, indigestion, insomnia, and decreased immunity.
  3. Emotional Disturbances: Rather than increasing mental activity, caffeine actually decreases blood flow to the brain by as much as 30% and negatively affects memory and mental performance.
  4. Blood Sugar Swings: Caffeine stimulates a temporary surge in blood sugar followed by an overproduction of insulin, which causes a blood sugar crash within hours. This roller coaster causes weight gain since insulin's message to the body is to store excess sugar as fat. 
  5. Gastrointestinal Problems: Many people experience a burning sensation in their stomach after drinking coffee because coffee increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid, which leads to an increased risk for ulcers.
  6. Nutritional Deficiencies: Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients in addition to causing the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, trace minerals and all essential elements necessary for good health.
  7. Male Health Problems: Milton Krisiloff, MD, has found that in the majority of cases, men can significantly reduce their risk for urinary and prostate problems by making dietary changes, which include eliminating coffee and caffeine.
  8. Female Health Problems: Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight and menopausal problems such as hot flashes are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they tend to have a decreased ability to detoxify caffeine.
  9. Aging: Many people find that in their 40s, they can no longer tolerate the same level of caffeine consumption they could in their 20s and 30s. Production of DHEA, melatonin and other vital hormones decline with age, but caffeine speeds up that process. Caffeine dehydrates the body and contributes to aging of the skin and kidneys. It has been shown to inhibit DNA repair and slow the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins.
  10. Adrenal Exhaustion: Caffeine consumption leads to eventual adrenal exhaustion, which can leave you vulnerable to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue.

*Adapted from Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug by Stephen Cherniske

Caffeine Perks:

  1. Alertness: Even in relatively low doses of 100 milligrams (the amount in about 8 ounces of ordinary brewed coffee), caffeine makes people more alert.
  2. Mood: At 200 milligrams people report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability.
  3. Concentration: Studies suggest that caffeine can help you perform a variety of cognitive tasks, such as recognizing visual patterns, more quickly.
  4. Performance: Research shows if 3-9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is consumed one hour prior to exercise it increases endurance.
  5. Reduce Muscle Pain: Stanley Segall, Ph.D., has found that caffeine might stimulate the release of B-endorphins and hormones that depress the sensation of pain or discomfort.
  6. Treat Headaches: Caffeine constricts blood vessels and helps treat headaches and migraines (but be aware of the opposite effect... too much caffeine can cause headaches).
  7. Prevent Diabetes: Coffee contains minerals and antioxidants which help prevent diabetes. Frank Hu, M.D., one of the authors of The Harvard Study, theorizes it may be because caffeine stimulates muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently.
  8. Increase Your Antioxidant Intake: Antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. If a free radical is formed in a cell and nothing is done, it can damage the DNA of the cell.
  9. Dodge Diseases: Caffeine keeps the dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Harvard researchers have found that men who drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day are half as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as those who refrain from consuming caffeinated beverages.
  10. Bring Relief to Asthma: Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can be therapeutic for people with asthma.