Last week on my Instagram, I spoke about coffee and knowing your daily healthy caffeine limit.
For most people, this is the one food they cannot absolutely give up. And be honest, I know you’re guilty of this because I used to be too, we simply just drink it whenever we want.
But do you know how many cups of coffee you consume daily and how much it amounts to?
Take for example, a cup of 8 oz brewed coffee, which contains about 70-140 mg of caffeine or averaging 95 mg. (1)
If you take 3-5 cups each day, that will amount to:
- 285 to 475 mg of caffeine each day
- 1,995 to 3,325 mg of caffeine each week
- 7,980 to 13,300 mg of caffeine each month
- 95,760 to 159,600 mg of caffeine each year
And that’s only a rough estimate of an average drinker who sticks to the 7-day routine.
Even if you don’t drink 3-5 cups of coffee straight for 7 days, if you do binge on one day (say, a Starbucks Venti plus 3 brewed coffee on top of other coffee-infused food) and another day, it could end up in more or less the same line of numbers above.
Time To Be Mindful About Your Coffee
Knowing what you put in your body is the best first step in being healthy and feeling good.
That said, here’s a guide on each coffee drink variant:
- Brewed coffee: (8 oz) 70-140 mg approx. 95 mg
- Espresso coffee: Single (small): 63 mg / Double (large): 125 mg
- Instant coffee: 30-90 mg per cup
- Decaf coffee: 0-7 mg per cup approx. 3 mg
For commercial drinks, you can refer to these links:
The Science Of Drinking Coffee
Now that you are aware of how much caffeine there is in each type of drink you may be consuming, let’s lay down the science of coffee!
Coffee is actually good for you. It is the single largest source of antioxidants in the diet, more than fruits and vegetables combined.
But to optimize the health benefits of coffee without triggering adverse effects, it would be helpful to learn how to drink it healthier.
1. No Caffeine After 2PM
If you’re sensitive to caffeine, it’s a better choice not to have coffee after lunch.
Caffeine is a stimulant and it can lead to sleepless nights when taken excessively.
College students in particular, are prone to this type of consumption with coffee and energy drinks. Given that they take 2-4 cups of coffee at night, which increases sleep latency on average from 6.3 to 12.1 minutes, it results to a lasting alertness of 5.5-7.5 hours. (2)
Energy drinks on the other hand, constitute the 34% of 18 to 24-year-olds who drink them regularly.
2. Learn To Take Your Coffee Without Sugar
Sugar is an empty calorie. It doesn’t contain any minerals or vitamins beneficial to the body. (3) Pair too much with excess coffee, and you’ve got quite a deadly combo.
It is also high in fructose, which has been the leading cause of obesity and diabetes and even depression. Taking your coffee black can ensure you’re getting more of the nutrients and antioxidants you need than the super sweetened version you’re used to take.
If you can’t do this just yet, start substituting your table sugar with coconut sugar, organic honey or sugar-free substitutes like Stevia.
3. Go With Quality Coffee
Whenever possible, buy organic and local coffee. Not only are you helping local farmers but you’ll also be enjoying the raw, real thing.
As Authority Nutrition states, “coffee beans tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides, herbicides and various toxins that were never intended for human consumption.”
Not only is it useful to know how much coffee you should be drinking but knowing its origins and method of farming will bring you the intended benefits you’re seeking.
If you’re serious about having a healthier coffee lifestyle, I suggest on skimming these articles:
- The Healthiest Coffee Drinks – Latina.com
- Health Benefits Of Various Types Of Coffee – Well-BeingSecrets.com (Jump to “Bean Status” for quick info!)
4. Add Spices To Your Coffee
Back when I was still a heavy coffee drinker, I used to top of my cappuccino with a dash of cinnamon. It was heavenly.
Cinnamon is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and has antioxidant properties. It also suppresses the in vitro growth of H. Pylori, which I have had an encounter in 2013. H. Pylori is a bacteria that grows on the lining of your stomach and is a recognized risk factor for gastrointestinal problems particularly gastric and pancreatic cancer.
There are actually other variants of add-ons and spices you can use to boost the flavor of your coffee.
Once when I was in Palawan, I came across a tucked away Israeli cafe that offered the most amazing pure coffee I’ve tasted in my entire life.
And what did it have? Cardamom.
Cardamom is a well-known spice in the Middle East. It has antioxidant properties like cinnamon but their ability to scavenge radicals and inhibit chemical carcinogenesis is what makes them the queen of spices. (4)
5. Avoid Low-Fat and Artificial Creamers
Most people, especially Filipinos, are so used to this, that it doesn’t even get raise any doubts on consumption.
Non-dairy coffee creamers or NDCC come in two forms: liquid and powder. These have become popular due to the notion that low fat are actually healthier.
But read this: NDCCs are composed mainly of corn syrup solids and vegetable fats, of which the fatty acids were reportedly highly saturated. (5)
When taken excessively, saturated fatty acids are harmful to your body as they have a negative effect on the blood lipid profile, including elevation of the low-density lioprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a biomarker for risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). (6)
Another note is that the makeup of NDCC calls for corn syrup which is high in fructose, and as we discussed in #2 earlier, sugar is an empty calorie. Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose combined.
Harvard gives us the low-down on this: Your body cells can use glucose for energy, but only the liver cells can break down fructose. (7)
During its time in the liver, fructose becomes an end product called triglyceride, a form of fat. Uric acid and free radicals are also formed. When triglycerides build up in liver cells, they damage the organ’s function. And when it’s released into the bloodstream, can also contribute to the growth of fat-filled plaque inside artery walls.
Free radicals, also called reactive oxygen species, damage cell structures, enzymes, and even genes. Uric acid can turn off nitric oxide production, a substance that helps keep your artery safe from any health damage.
High fructose intake also results to insulin resistance, a predecessor to diabetes. So if you want your coffee to be healthier, skip the fad creamers.
6. Cocoa + Coffee = Mocha
Now this is my favorite. And while I don’t drink coffee anymore, I’m a huge advocate of cocoa.
There is a good evidence from a study that showed chocolate helps to alleviate stress by increasing the production of the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Cocoa is also high in antioxidants, a third largest source for Americans. But if you’re taking cocoa for your coffee, might as well skip the sugary stuff and go for the dark or raw chocolate kind.
Adding raw cocoa also improves the health of your platelets, involving both a decrease in platelet aggregation and a reduction in platelet adhesion. Therefore increasing the blood flow to the brain and resulting to a reduced risk of stroke and insulin resistance. (8)
7. Use A Paper Filter
Diterpenes are harmful substances that can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Sadly, these are found from your favorite cup of brewed coffee.
But you can eliminate them by using a paper filter. Essentially, it effectively strains out all these harmful substances, with the addition of gaining you the caffeine and body-friendly antioxidants you need.
When buying your paper filter, go for the unbleached ones (brown) as they are less processed than the bleached filters.
8. Use Filtered Water And Grind Your Own Beans
This might sound obvious, but two of the things that are often far too missed when making the best cup of coffee you’ll have are water and the method you’re making it with.
People think they’ll just buy high-end coffee beans, buy a fancy equipment and call it a day.
Why is this?
Filtered water can remove all the unnecessary particles there are in the water that can affect the taste and health benefit of your coffee.
Grinding your own beans means that you’re getting it fresh. There are about 400 volatile organic compounds and oils in each coffee bean, when if released, bring you the exciting aroma of what you now enjoy as coffee.
But to keep those in tact, an outer layer exists. Now if you buy pre-ground coffee this magic has lost most of its explosion and you’re only going to get the fizzle. (11)
9. Make Sure To Eat Before You Drink
There’s a reason why coffee is part of the Big Breakfast Club.
While you may not know this, there’s actually a scientific reason why you should: if you take coffee first you’re doing more harm than good.
When you drink coffee first thing in the morning, it stimulates gastrin release and gastric acid secretion which promotes gastro-oesophageal reflux. (12)
So before you grab your mug, take time to prepare a meal first so you can both enjoy your food and coffee. Your body will thank you later.
10. Try Bulletproof Coffee
I actually haven’t heard of this until someone told me about it amidst my research so I looked it up and here’s what I found:
Bulletproof coffee is common in the Paleo & Keto diet community.
What it is is a recipe that calls for high-quality (and possibly organic) coffee, grass-fed butter, and a Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil all whirred in a blender to make a creamy smooth concoction.
More often coconut oil is used for this as it has the richest form of MCT at around 15% of its total fat.
Your Coffee DNA
Every individual has a unique genetic makeup and reaction to caffeine, therefore it is important for you to pay attention on how much is too much or too little for you.
Q: Why do I feel sleepy after drinking coffee?
Depending on the time frame that you drank your coffee, the caffeine you consume blocks a “tiredness transmitter” called adenosine.
Now, according to a research-based article on Chicago Reader, this means caffeine only blocks adenosine temporarily, raising the nervous system’s general level of stimulation.
So what coffee does, so to speak, is to just “mask” what you were feeling before you took it.
According to Quentin Regestein of the sleep clinic of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in a survey done by Avram Goldstein in married students dormitory, they asked questions on general lifestyles and what they found is as follows:
- People who drank coffee generally described themselves as sleepy in the mornings.
- Now while this could be the reason why they started drinking coffee… they also found out that when people stopped using coffee, their morning sleepiness doesn’t get worse, it goes away.
- People who give up coffee stated that the clear stimulus they used to feel for an hour, hour and a half in the morning is no longer there but that their average daily productivity improves
“Caffeine is a compound handled by a process we call first-order metabolism. No matter how much is there to start with, after a given amount of time, a certain percentage of what was there will be gone. In the case of caffeine–which pervades the whole body, is broken down in the liver, and is excreted through the kidneys–the half-life in the system is about four hours.” – John Carney, a caffeine researcher at the University of Kentucky
So if you were already exhausted prior to drinking your coffee, when the effect wears off, you’re left with the feeling you were supposed to feel hours before.
Q: How much is too much caffeine?
Now while there is no fixed amount of recommended caffeine for everyone, there is however a general rule of thumb based from a research done by Caffeine Informer. This number may vary because it is determined by the person’s bodyweight:
“For healthy adults with no medical issues, it is generally agreed upon that 300 mg – 400 mg of caffeine can be consumed daily without any adverse effects.”
This is equivalent to about:
- 5.2 Shots of espresso
- Two 5 Hour Energy Shots
- 1 Starbucks Venti brewed coffee
- 2.5 16 fl.oz. Monster Energy Drinks
- 5 8 fl.oz. Red Bulls
- 11.7 12 fl.oz. Cokes
Coffee is a healthy drink, when taken moderately. It’s rich in antioxidants and is the topmost single source of caffeine. A cup of coffee combined with a power nap can give you the much-needed kick you require.
However, overdoing it can produce greater odds of significant depression, anxiety and insomnia. (13)
The recommended daily caffeine limit for healthy adults is 300-400 mg of caffeine or equivalent to four (4) cups of brewed coffee. (14)
To make your coffee consumption healthier, keep in mind these 10 tips:
- No caffeine after 2pm
- Learn to take your coffee without sugar
- Go with quality coffee
- Add spices to your coffee
- Avoid low-fat and artificial creamers
- Cocoa + coffee = mocha
- Use paper filters
- Use filtered water and grind your own beans
- Make sure to eat before you drink
- Try bulletproof coffee
But if you think coffee is something you need to avoid due to health or personal reasons, check out how I quit drinking coffee for good (1 year, 4 months and counting!).
Hope you learned something today, folks!
What coffee is your favorite?
If you have other topics you want to read about on personal development and wellness, let me know in the comments and I will queue it up in my next posts!