Coffee And Health - How Are They Related

BY BORIS POVOLOTSKY - 11 Jul 2022

Caffeine is a psychoactive substance (a stimulant) that is found in various shapes and forms, including coffee beans, plants, nuts, and even in synthetic forms like energy drinks, Coca-Cola, and more. Coffee effects are multidimensional: social; psychological; physiological. In Italy, espresso is a cultural drink, people drink espresso at the bar and it is often a shared experience with social implications and deeper meaning. People gather in cafes all around the world, to drink coffee, have a meal, and have a conversation. Various psychophysiological effects like reduced headaches, improved cognitive skills like focus, improved reaction time, and more.

An interesting finding suggests that coffee withdrawal negatively impacts the effects of your next caffeine dosage. For example, if you haven’t ingested any caffeine today, and you drink a cup of coffee tomorrow, you may be less alert than usual and have a slightly worse reaction time. Another fascinating finding shows that less caffeinated users or people who do not drink coffee regularly are more sensitive to the negative effects of coffee like anxiety and jitteriness when ingesting coffee after one day of withdrawal.

Several studies show that moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of heart failure.

SLEEP

It is widely accepted that caffeine intake puts you at risk of disrupting the quality of your sleep. How likely and how severe depend on your caffeine usage and sleep patterns. If you’re a night worker trying to use caffeine to go through the night hoping the recovery with daytime sleep, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk than someone who drinks coffee at the same hour in the evening but attempts regular nighttime sleep. It is wise to conclude that having a cup of coffee past, say, 4 PM is harmful. It can disrupt your sleep. Even if you do manage to fall asleep, the quality of your sleep will be hurt.

People who use caffeine to battle the negative effects of sleep deprivation or general sleep disturbance, do benefit from improved effects due to coffee consumption. So imagine you are sleep deprived student who has to maintain cognitive capabilities during the day, having your daily coffee does help to cope with affected performance, it is not merely “in your head”.

Many studies are researching the positive “net benefits” and negative impacts of coffee. However, you should take some of them with a grain of salt because of their limitations. For example, many struggles to recruit the perfect control group of “caffeine-naive” people. Some studies present extreme use cases like 72h sleep-deprived Navy Seals with significantly improved effects on psychomotor and cognitive areas.

I think it is safe to conclude the following for most people:

  • Abstain from consuming caffeine in the evening
  • Don’t make a habit of having coffee during the night if you’re a regular night worker.
  • You can occasionally push through a sleepless night with coffee if it’s really rare.
  • If you drink coffee regularly, you’re likely to not be as affected by some of the negative effects of caffeine like anxiety/jitteriness.

The reason you should probably avoid caffeine as much as you can pass noon/afternoon is that it reduces the sleep hormone: Melatonin. Melatonin is naturally released throughout the night, beginning in the evening. Not having coffee after 2 P.M does not guarantee quality sleep as there are additional hazards that can harm your melatonin release before bedtime, like screens and generally any source of light.

  • Note: although coffee helps with the decrements of performance across multiple areas (cognitive, psychomotor, mood), there is a risk of a vicious loop: sleep deprivation -> impaired performance -> coffee helps with impaired performance -> coffee causes impaired sleep quality -> sleep deprivation -> ….

Please, as much as you (we) love coffee, consider lowering your coffee consumption to at least a moderate and reasonable amount. Also, if you simply cannot live without your evening coffee, consider a decaf and thus lowering the caffeine intake and in turn lessening the damage to your sleep patterns and overall health.

Can You Drink Espresso While Fasting

A common question I get asked a lot is: can you drink espresso while intermittent fasting? Yes, you can safely drink espresso while doing Intermittent Fasting.

It’s best to keep it to black coffee, meaning no adding milk to the coffee. Having espresso while intermittent fasting will not break your fast. If one of the reasons you’re fasting is to lose weight, having espresso or black coffee in general can be beneficial for that cause. I can add references to researches in the future.

There are two major coffee health benefits that I, personally, find very helpful in my fasting process from the point I wake up in the morning until I reach my eating window.

Coffee Satiates Hunger

Beyond helping me be more alert and awake, coffee can help me cope with hunger sensations. Coffee is very likely to suppress your appetite and help you finish your fasting cycle successfully. Beware not to consume too much coffee in that window, or the side effects will cause more damage than those benefits we’re discussing. For the best effect, try to delay your morning coffee intake by about 90 minutes.

Metabolic Rate Increase

Coffee increases the metabolic rate function and helps you burn more fat. Some recommend having a cup of coffee before working out. Possibly gaining a double effect of increasing metabolism, burning fat, and gaining muscle. Coffee is known to increase physical endurance as well as improve your physical performance.

Word For Caution

It is not all great. If you’re not a regular coffee drinker, and you’re occasionally having coffee, then withdrawing for a couple of days and so on, you may be experiencing the drawbacks of coffee. It is no secret that coffee has some nasty side effects like causing anxiety and jitteriness, as well as causing some bowel discomfort.

Most importantly, coffee can cause serious health damage by disrupting your circadian rhythm, i.e your sleep. Caffeine is very tightly tied to adenosine, which is a chemical that is gradually released and accumulated in the brain from the moment we wake up in the morning. When caffeine enters our system, the adenosine is effectively ignored by our brain, meaning we won’t feel the sleep pressure caused by the chemical buildup. However, caffeine doesn’t prevent adenosine build-up, so when the caffeine wears off we experience the caffeine crash which is a sudden significant hit of all the adenosine we’ve accumulated.

No Milk, No Cream.

Adding milk or cream to your coffee potentially cancels all the benefits I have touched upon above, since adding sugars, fats, and calories mix and changes the whole equation, and not in your favor, for sure.

Try to avoid adding milk or cream to your coffee. Have your milk drink after your break your fast. I usually have drip coffee in the morning, and only at noon after launch me and my wife have our cappuccino or latte. Moreover, there are other options to consider if you don’t want an Americano, Turkish Coffee, Espresso, Filter, or just any coffee beans in general. You can consume caffeine in the form of tea or Yerba Mate.

If you do intermittent fasting, then good for you, I can only imagine you’re enjoying the countless great psychological and physiological benefits this lifestyle offers. If you’re not into intermittent fasting yet, I highly encourage you to educate yourself as much as you can on the subject and consider it if it sounds suitable for you.


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