Getting The Benefits From Coffee While Reducing The Risks

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD

Too much to get the benefits from coffee?If you are one of those individuals who need coffee to wake up in the morning and then several more mugs to get you through the day, then it is high time to start worrying about your habit. Even though coffee is considered as the best beverage by many health experts, drinking too much can negate the benefits from coffee.

Let’s find out what has been revealed in the latest research about potential drawbacks and benefits from coffee and whether you ought to cut back on a few mugs or leave coffee once and for all!

Benefits From Coffee

Disease Fighter

According to studies, coffee can reduce the risk of heart diseases, strokes, basal cell carcinoma and cancers like oral, ovarian, prostrate, colon and liver. It can also prevent Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Recently, Cornell University carried out a study which revealed that coffee might even prevent retinal degeneration that can be caused by diabetes, aging and glaucoma. According to Babaknia all this research is quite hopeful but since they are prospective and merely observe 10 to 15 years of an individual’s life, they lack enough evidence to which we can start recommending everyone to drink coffee.

Weight Loss, Increased Energy and Better Mood

Coffee can enhance memory, boost energy and improve mood and reaction time. In fact, according to a Harvard School of Public Health’s study, individuals drinking two to four mugs of coffee everyday decrease their risks of suicide by almost 50%.

A mug of coffee drank an hour or half an hour before a workout may enhance the individual’s performance as well. According to Babaknia, coffee boosts metabolism, aids weight loss and burns fat by almost 4% but these effects are observed in individuals who are relatively thin.

Nutrient Dense

According to a research conducted by National Coffee Association, around 63% of Americans drink coffee daily. The research claims that there is a good reason for drinking it everyday. One of the main benefits from coffee noted is that it is packed with tons of nutrition including choline, niacin, vitamin B, potassium and magnesium.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ spokesperson, Joan Salge Blake, states that taking coffee with milk is the best way of attaining calcium and vitamin D. this is especially beneficial for Americans as majority of them are calcium and Vitamin D deficient. According to Dr. Arfa Babaknia, who is a family medicine physician in Fountain Valley’s Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, coffee is one of the biggest source of antioxidants in an individual’s diet.

How Much is Too Much?

Salge Blake states that while consuming some amount of coffee can be good for you, more might not be good at all.

Daily consumption of coffee can quickly add up as in typical coffee shops, 16 oz per cup is a norm. Furthermore, in one cup of iced coffee, the portions are usually large and not watered down, meaning coffee occupies most of the cup. One more important factor to consider is that if an individual is taking pain relievers, eating chocolates, drinking sports drinks, soda or tea then he/she is already taking more caffeine than they are aware of.

Coffee may also result in high blood pressure but in individuals who aren’t regular drinkers, according to Babaknia. People suffering from type 2 diabetes need to avoid drinking coffee as it raises blood glucose levels.

Coffee may reduce calcium and iron absorption, increase anxiety and heart rate, worsen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or result in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Consuming 400 mg or 4 mugs of coffee everyday can help addicts control cravings without experiencing any side effects. However, the right amount of coffee is dependent on how it is making you feel.

Babaknia asserts that as long as you don’t feel hyper, jittery or get insomnia or a headache, there is no limit to how much you should drink coffee.

Tiredness benefits from coffeeIf a person drinks coffee before bed, even an hour before, he/she can face difficulty in falling or staying asleep and then drink more coffee the next day in order to stay awake and alert. Blake states that this results in a vicious cycle which can end up really affecting the individual’s sleeping pattern.

According to experts, it is best for a woman to avoid coffee if she is going through vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment or is dealing with infertility. Though, it has not been proven that coffee leads to preterm birth or miscarriage, experts recommend pregnant women to reduce their daily caffeine intake to about 200 mg.

If you are suffering from withdrawal symptoms like irritability, fatigue or headache then it is best to reduce your intake gradually or replace your drink with decaf.


Benefits from coffee


  • Helen says:

    I have to avoid coffee completely as an AFS sufferer. Even a small cup (level desertspoon) made with high quality coffee is too stimulating/damaging to my adrenals. I find it makes the ends of my fingers wrinkly which seems to be related to electrolytes being imbalanced. Also, at times I have low blood volume (nurse cannot take blood) which rectifies when I go caffeine free. Some sources say to not eat high potassium fruit and to have water with sea salt in it. Would you agree with this Dr Lam or is it dependent on the individual? I’m wondering if I have a problem with aldosterone and if there’s any treatment you would recommend? Would small doses of Pregnenolone help? I’ve tried it but seem to have hot flashes (age 54 – I’ve always needed oestrogen during perimenopause as mine was low and progesterone was high. Would using DHEA have any affect on aldosterone? Many thanks, Helen

    • Dr.Lam says:

      With your multiple issues, individualziation is needed as your body can behave differently. hormonal balancing can be very tricky because so many factors are involved. DHEA does support adrenals but can worsen estrogen dominance. Click Estrogen Dominance for more information.

      Dr Lam

  • dan says:

    For preventative purposes what would be a good amount of coffee to take each day?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      If you are healthy and and strong, 1-2 cups are deemed acceptable, and that equates to anywhere from 80-250 mg caffeine total. Those with AFS should refrain all together due to its stimulatory effect.

      Dr Lam.