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6 Surprising Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Coffee

Coffee is a daily essential for many people. Best known for its ability to boost brain power and give us an added pep in our step, coffee also contains an-oxidants that can help our cells to fight free-radicals (these are molecules that can contribute to the development of various diseases).

Plus, did you know that coffee also contains B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus? Research has found associations between coffee intake and decreased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

So, despite all of this good news, why are people becoming increasingly conscious of their coffee consumption? Well, to put it simply, too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing. Here’s why too much coffee could be harming your health.

6 Surprising Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Coffee

1. Your sleep is affected

Coffee, thanks to its caffeine content, has a stimulant effect on the body and brain. Caffeine does this by blocking adenosine in the brain. Adenosine is a compound that binds to receptors in the brain and increases feelings of drowsiness and tiredness. Adenosine builds up throughout the day and therefore helps to promote sleep at night. By preventing adenosine from doing its job, caffeine produces the opposite effect. Instead of feeling tired, we feel alert. This is a welcome boost to our concentration and productivity levels, as well as training and athletic performance.

The downside, however, is that if we consume coffee too close to bedtime, we don’t get those sleep-promoting effects of adenosine. This can result in disrupted sleep. Hello, insomnia! Caffeine is reported to have a half-life approximately four hours later, so we suggest drinking your last cup several hours before bed.

2. Anxiety-like side-effects

Health guidelines suggest that up to 400mg of caffeine per day is a safe amount for the average Australian population. However, many individuals find more than a couple of cups can produce unwanted symptoms such as jitteriness, anxiety and even heart palpitations. So, if you’re feeling particularly stressed already, or if you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine, coffee may be less a friend and more a foe. Listen to your body (and mind) and sip wisely.

3. Creating a caffeine tolerance

People can become tolerant to the effects of caffeine, meaning they require more and more of it to produce the desired stimulant effects. Many people also find that if they miss a day or attempt a cold turkey caffeine cut down that they can experience headaches, fatigue, low mood or irritability. Rather than a pleasurable addition to their day, coffee can become a physiological necessity – not so fun anymore!

4. Digestive impacts

Have you ever found yourself running for the nearest loo after your morning brew? Coffee increases the mobility of muscles within the gastrointestinal tract. It can also trigger other digestive symptoms such as loose bowel movements and reflux.

5. Reduction of nutrient absorption

While on the topic of digestion, dietitians have found coffee can in fact decrease the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, particularly iron, calcium, B vitamins and magnesium. If you’re someone who’s experiencing nutritional deficiencies or suffering from malabsorption issues, your best bet is to drink caffeine away from meals, not with them, to maximise uptake.

6. Opportunities for unhealthy additives

Finally, what you put in your coffee counts. If you take sugars or flavoured syrups in your coffee, remember this does add up (especially if you’re having multiple cups per day). And we all know added sugars can impact weight and blood sugar levels.

Always seek the guidance of your doctor, dietitian or other qualified health professional prior to starting a new eating plan. 

Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian

Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.

Need more energy? These are the 9 best foods to eat to help with burnout. 


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