Writers are notorious for drinking coffee as a means to staying energized and productive. But I’ve noticed several issues lately any time I drank coffee at night in order to work late or too much at any given time. I’ve also read several articles recently concerning the health benefits of coffee. So what does this mean for those of us who need its properties or enjoy its flavor?
Apparently excess caffeine causes liver damage because while the enzymes used to break down the caffeine are busy doing so, they are less available for breaking down other chemicals in the bloodstream therefore causing the liver to work less efficiently at detoxifying the body. It has been recommended that anything more than two cups of coffee a day is excessive. And experts recommend replacing additional cups with water.
According to a recent study reported by the BBC, people who drink too much coffee could start seeing ghosts or hearing strange voices! Students in the study who drank more than seven cups of instant coffee each day were three times more likely to hallucinate than people who drank one cup. “Any stimulant that you’re overdosing on, such as seven cups a day, will stimulate hallucinations,” Dr. Teitelbaum explains.
A recent study [by Kaiser Permanente Division of Research] found that consuming more than two cups, of coffee a day doubled the risk of miscarriage. Another study published in the British Medical Journal in November 2008 found that more than one cup of caffeine a day while pregnant resulted in a lower birth weight for the baby.
We all know we should get eight hours of sleep every night. As writer, often combined with being parents, spouses, children of elderly parents and working other jobs as well, it is rare that we can accomplish this. Combine stress, anxiety AND coffee, those eight hours are impossible. This was my most recent issue which ended up with my being sleepy and unable to focus all day. This defeated any efforts I had made the previous night. According to experts, “We have a natural rise in cortisol in the morning to help us get out of bed and perform our daily tasks. However, if you are drinking coffee all day, then this cycle becomes disrupted, and your higher cortisol and adrenaline levels may interrupt a restful night of sleep.”
“When used at more than 12 ounces a day for energy, it becomes an energy ‘loan shark,’ crashing you later and taking more energy than it gives,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. and Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. He notes coffee consumption becomes problematic when it’s not done in moderation and exceeds two cups each day. Plus, excessive coffee intake in someone who already tends to have anxiety may trigger other problems. It may cause palpitations, more anxiety, irritability, then rebound fatigue, depression and sleepiness once the effects of the caffeine wear off in usually three to three and a half hours.
Caffeine is a mild diuretic, so while many people start their day with a cup of coffee, they are already at a deficit as far as the six to eight glasses of water we need to stay hydrated each day. Drinking excess amounts of coffee, which has a laxative effect, can also aggravate irritable bowel syndrome. Caffeine also promotes potassium depletion; the net effect being that the mineral balance in your body is disrupted.
Coffee releases the “stress hormone” cortisol and adrenaline which help us respond to stress and provide us with energy and vitality throughout the day. Heavy coffee drinkers secrete more cortisol and adrenaline than those without a coffee habit, which may ultimately result in fatigue of the adrenal gland. Adrenal fatigue is one of the most common culprits for the feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.
According to Jennifer Zartarian, N.D., the Wellness and Research Coordinator at Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn, coffee is not friendly to teeth. “The dark brown color of coffee that develops when it is roasted via a biochemical reaction, called the Maillard reaction, causes a stubborn stain — which is difficult enough to remove from your clothes or living room rug, so just think of what it is doing to your teeth!”
Caffeinated beverages like coffee have an acidic and astringent effect on the tissues of the body which prevents optimal absorption and assimilation of nutrients and fluids in the digestive tract. In fact, acid interferes with the absorption of magnesium and can cause stomach problems. It can run into the intestine and cause ulcers, burn the tissue, contribute to bowel problems.
Overall health issues
According to a University of Scranton study, while coffee is a top antioxidant in the American diet, it’s most beneficial when people consume a variety of antioxidants, not just coffee. Although there are positive aspects of drinking java, to prevent the negative health risks people should drink the beverage in moderation. Coffee contains volatile oils (seen as a film at the top of each cup), which disturb the function of the blood vessels. It contains a lot of pesticides, which can cause the body to accumulate too many toxins; it damages the immune system; it may cause osteoporosis as it depletes calcium levels in the body; and there’s an overall increased risk of cardiovascular disease.