What are the benefits of drinking coffee and is there a downside? We're answer all of your burning questions about coffee and if it is good or bad for your health.
Is Coffee Healthy?
It seems that for every study showing the possible benefits of drinking coffee, there’s another one suggesting potential downsides...so, what’s a person to believe? Is coffee healthy? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is: it depends—on everything from how your genetic makeup to how much coffee you drink to how you take your coffee. To help us make sense of it all, we sat down with Nutritionist Samantha Frost, Your Super’s Chief Health Officer, to get the lowdown on coffee.
Q: Let’s start with the basics. What are some of the benefits of drinking coffee?
A: Coffee is high in alkaloids, which means it’s very effective at stimulating the central nervous system—which can come in handy if you’re struggling to get going in the morning. It also has a diuretic effect, can help reduce short-term pain by amplifying the pain-relieving effect of aspirin and other over-the-counter painkillers, and it can help with constipation because it gets your intestinal muscles moving.
Caffeine, the stimulant in coffee, also has some benefits, like helping you give it your all when you’re exercising.
Q: Does coffee contain any nutrients?
A: A few. It contains some antioxidants and other phytonutrients, but the main reason people drink it is for the caffeine. A six-ounce cup of coffee typically contains about 60-120mg of caffeine, but it depends on how the coffee is made. Additionally, darker roasts contain less caffeine than light roasts. If you make your coffee in a standard drip coffeemaker, an average cup will have 100-150mg caffeine, instant coffee contains 85-100mg caffeine, and decaffeinated coffee contains approximately 8mg caffeine.
Q: How can drinking coffee detract from your health?
A: It depends on the person, but in some individuals, coffee can worsen types of depression that have an anxiety-induced component. Short-term coffee can cause frequent urination, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal distress, tremors, insomnia, and anxiety.
Generally, drinking coffee in moderate amounts—typically 1-2 cups a day—doesn’t cause too many issues, but in excess, it can cause headaches, nervousness, agitation, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. Some studies show that drinking more than 5 cups of coffee daily is associated with an increased risk to heart health.
Coffee doesn’t rejuvenate or energize you...it just delays the fatigue. Over time, ignoring the body’s signals that it needs rest, can start to affect brain functions such as sleep, cognition, learning, and memory.
If you become dependent on caffeine and abruptly stop drinking it, it’s common to experience withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, drowsiness, trouble concentrating, depression, anxiety, irritability, and reduced alertness (13738).
Certain groups of people, especially children and the elderly, can be more sensitive to the adverse effects of caffeine (13736).
There are many healthy and more sustainable ways to promote our transformation of energy into action without blocking the natural biological signals that are designed to protect us.
Q: How many cups of coffee would it take to experience these unpleasant effects?
A: The answer depends on your genetics and tolerance to caffeine, which can change if you start drinking it consistently or increase your consumption. As a general rule, 1-3 cups a day is probably safe.
Q: How does coffee affect your body?
A: Because the caffeine in coffee stimulates your central nervous system and blocks your adenosine receptors (which can prevent feelings of drowsiness), it can feel like coffee is giving you energy. In reality, it’s just stopping the signals the body usually sends when it’s tired. Coffee doesn’t rejuvenate or energize you...it just delays the fatigue. Over time, ignoring the body’s signals that it needs rest can start to affect brain functions such as sleep, cognition, learning, and memory.
Q: Does coffee affect certain people differently or is everyone advised to cut back on coffee?
A: It depends. Personally, I’m mindful of avoiding or reducing dependency on any substances that can artificially appear to boost my energy. There are many healthy and more sustainable ways to promote our transformation of energy into action without blocking the natural biological signals that are designed to protect us.
There’s a common misperception that fatigue is a sign of a lack of energy, but fatigue is simply a sign that our bodies need to divert that energy to other functions.
Q: How can coffee actually make you more fatigued?
A: There’s a common misperception that fatigue is a sign of a lack of energy, but fatigue is simply a sign that our bodies need to divert that energy to other functions. If you consume coffee or other stimulants to block those fatigue signals, you run the risk of draining the energetic resources your body was trying to use for recovery and healing.
Interestingly, falling asleep and relaxing—truly letting go and allowing our muscles and mind to release—requires energy. So you know those times when you’re exhausted but can’t drift off to sleep? Or can’t stop thinking about work when you’re supposed to be enjoying some downtime? Well, when we’re really drained and exhausted after forcing our body past fatigue, the consequences could be that when we really need and want to rest, our body doesn’t have enough energy to let go.
Having difficulty winding down after exertion can lead to sleep disruptions and poor stress responses. It also leaves us vulnerable to infections that will occur at the most inconvenient times and force us to catch up on the quiet time our body was telling us it needed earlier.
Q: So, is coffee good for your health?
A: It depends, as a personal or social ritual that we enjoy, it is wonderful—as is any other mentally or physically therapeutic drink we might consume. The risk of dependency and potential negative side effects can change over our lifetime as other factors change (sources of stress, exercise, sleep quality, relationships) and whether or not we have a combination of genes that speed up or slow down coffee metabolism and sensitivity.
Q: Now, let’s switch to the new Super Brew Mix. Tell us about the nutritional benefits of Super Brew.
A: It supports healthy liver function, helps produce bile, which breaks down dietary fat, and it contains essential minerals, amino acids, and B vitamins. But what I really love about it is that it’s energizing without a lot of caffeine (just 23 mg) and it’s low in calories for its nutritional value.
Q: Why would you recommend replacing some or all of your coffee intake with Super Brew?
A: For self-empowerment and to give yourself better nutrition while still maintaining your morning ritual! For those who may have felt dependent on coffee or caffeine, Super Brew is a great way to take your energetic power back. It can allow you to start paying attention to the signals your body is sending you while still maintaining the nourishing ritual of making yourself a special drink.
Q: Are there reasons why tea drinkers should swap their tea for Super Brew?
A: Maybe not swap, but it could be an interesting trial for eating habits. Stick to your normal routine with tea one day and then try Super Brew the next day and see how it impacts your appetite and energy flow. Sometimes there’s a temptation—with certain types of tea—to have a sweet snack with it and that can disrupt blood sugar balance, hinder weight loss goals, and lead to an energy spike followed by a sudden drop. Super Brew is filling on its own without a lot of calories or caffeine.
Q: How does Super Brew help suppress appetite?
A: The combination of ingredients and the drink’s consistency stimulate your senses and your organs begin to anticipate the nutrients it contains. It gradually releases energy and contains some low-glycemic carbohydrates, proteins, and plant oils that the body recognizes as all the macronutrient components of a meal. When the body recognizes that it’s receiving a combination of macronutrients, the hormones that regulate appetite respond by producing signals that let the body know, ‘We have enough of what we need.’
Q: How many servings of Super Brew would you recommend per day?
A: 1-2 servings.
Q: Do you have any recommendations on how to take Super Brew?
A: While I wouldn’t recommend drinking coffee—with or without milk—on an empty stomach (it can cause cravings later in the day and may suppress appetite without providing macronutrients) Super Brew should be fine on an empty stomach because it contains macronutrients. It’s like a low-calorie mini-meal in that it will provide some nutritional energy.
However, everyone is different, I’d recommend trying a half-dose on an empty stomach instead of a full dose. And if you have it before exercising, be sure to wait an hour after finishing it so you don’t get stomach cramps.
Text: Kellyn Legath