Coffee is another product over advertised and overused in our society. Small amounts of coffee seem to be good for our health, but it is also easy to over consume it.
There is a huge demand for coffee on daily basis with 87% of American population admitting to drinking at least 1 cup per day, being average daily consumption 2,3 cups per day, and 55% admitting to be addicted to their daily cup.
Coffee beans constrain caffeine, a powerful and most worldwide use psychoactive substance, with power to increase individual’s awareness, performance and energy levels.
On the other hand one has to wonder whether coffee is really good. It is after all a relatively new invention.
The first known and documented reports indicate that coffees first appearance in 13th century in Ethiopia, after which point it has spread around the world, being often concentrated in specific zones and consumed by a few in elite.
It is only in the past century, thanks to globalization, coffee got to the wider public and became a must have product in our consumption lives. This is to say that it is a relatively new substance for our bodies and while our bodies have power to adopt fast, we cannot fight evolution, a slow process that maintains things constant for generations at times.
So lets take a look at some known limits to coffee consumption.
Biologically, EFSA suggests maximum safe caffeine consumption of 400mg of coffee per day (4 cups of coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks) for a healthy adult. Children (3-10 years) are not advised to consume coffee and adolescents (10-16 year) should not consume more that 100mg of coffee per day. If you drink 500-600mg or more you can have side effects, such as insomnia (main reason for monumental sleeping pills sell worldwide), nervousness and irritability.
This is interesting because first of all the 400mg are calculated as a maximum for an average healthy adult, someone who is in their ideal weight, who watches their diet, who exercises regularly and who does not do other major negative behaviours like smoking or drinking. This is to say that 400mg seems to be safe for a person who would not drink 400mg of caffeine daily in a first place.
Additionally, we know and expect children and adolescents not to need coffee, yet as soon as we turn adults it becomes a must. There is something interesting about psychology of drinking coffee.
Why do we drink coffee?
We have already named several reason why people drink coffee being higher energy, awareness and performance on the top of the list. We want that because because we want to be more efficient in what we want to do. So let take a look at that.
An average persons energy level is no constant and changes through out the day as we can see on the following graph.
In the morning, we wake up feeling sleepy, yet we have somewhat high energy because we just slept. As the sleepiness goes away, which happens because our muscles become more active after a night of not moving, we have most energy.
This first period between waking up and having the highest energy is when people drink coffee the most to wake up. But as we can see, we will have energy one way of another, with or without coffee.
Then we maintain this high energy all the way until the lunch, when something interesting happens. Right after eating our energy levels drop. This drop of energy don’t make sense today, but it used to make sense in the prehistoric times, when moving to much with a full stomach could make people sick and an easy pray for an animal.
Right after the lunch is another time when majority of people have their second coffee as a way of getting back lost energy. This is again unnecessary, as the energy will come back to normal levels independent of coffee drinking or not.
Later throughout the day energy continues dropping as well continue with our daily activities. In this point people grab couple more coffees. They do it because they want to get more things done (did not do enough in the morning) or because it is a social time, perfectly phases as “let’s go for a coffee”.
The social aspect of coffee drinking is important too. Still “going for a coffee” is just an expression (and who knows if we do not adopt it from some advertising campaign from back in the day). So when you do go for a coffee you can have a tea or water instead. Another person will not be upset or angry because it was a coffee appointment and we drinking a tea or water. It is shown that we under drinking water anyway, so when people drink coffee it is possible that they are simply putting necessary liquids into their bodies.
So, drinking coffee for energy sakes in not necessary.
Overdoing coffee, however, as it is the case with everything else in live, is bad. Drinking too much coffee leads to our bodies getting used to the stimulus, decreasing it effect over a longer period of time. Rather it is good to stop drinking coffee so often and just do it when we actually think we need it.
Additionally, any good and essential nutrients that are in the coffee, in big doses, become bad nutrients, that our body tries to get rid of.
Finally, we drink coffee because everyone else drinks it too. Social pressure is indeed a powerful force, but in this case, as it has been many times before, it is incorrect one.
So to say that our bodies need and that we cannot live without it is also false and asking “how many cups of coffee per day can I drink?” is asking a wrong question.
We can achieve all the benefits of drinking coffee without drinking it by getting good habits, including good time management, stretching in the morning, drinking enough liquids, keeping our minds active and exercising the will power.
A better question should be “should I drink coffee at all?”