What Really Happens to Your Body When You Drink Coffee Every Day | Livestrong.com (2023)

What Really Happens to Your Body When You Drink Coffee Every Day | Livestrong.com (1)

Sipping on a bunch of brew every single day can affect your whole health, including your cholesterol, heart health, gut, mood, appetite and more.

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What Really Happens to Your Body When examines the head-to-toe effects of common behaviors, actions and habits in your everyday life.

If you depend on a jolt of java to jumpstart your day, you're in good company. The average American drinks more than 3 cups of coffee per day, according to the National Coffee Association (NCA). That's ‌a lot‌ of joe.


Here, dietitians explain if it's bad to drink coffee every day, and how coffee affects your whole health.

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1. Your Cholesterol Levels May Rise

Because coffee doesn't contain any cholesterol, you might think it doesn't have an effect on your cholesterol levels as long as you go easy on the fatty creamer. But that's not totally true.


"While the research primarily resides in small studies, we are seeing that the fat in coffee beans, particularly in the oils like cafestol and kahweol, can contribute to the rise in cholesterol, particularly LDL or 'bad' cholesterol," says Kylene Bogden, RDN, co-founder of FWDfuel.

Known as diterpenes, these oily substances in coffee "can stifle your body's natural ability to process and remove cholesterol," she says. Problem is, high cholesterol levels are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

(Video) What Happens When You Drink Coffee (Science-Based)


But the dose of diterpenes largely depends on how you brew your brew. Diterpenes are more plentiful in unfiltered coffees like French press versus filtered varieties. Here's why: "When the coffee passes through a paper filter, the oils are blocked from reaching your mug," Bogden says.

In fact, one cup of filtered brew boasts 30 times fewer diterpenes than the same amount of unfiltered java, according to Harvard Health Publishing.


So, if you have a history of high cholesterol or heart issues, it might be beneficial to forego unfiltered coffee varieties or at least limit how much you drink them.

2. Your Blood Pressure Might Increase

"Since caffeine has a vasoconstrictive effect [meaning it narrows your blood vessels], it can raise blood pressure within the first 30 minutes post-consumption," Bogden says.


While it's not fully understood why this happens, one hypothesis posits that caffeine blocks a hormone that widens your arteries, says Lisa Moskovitz, RDN, founder and CEO of the NY Nutrition Group and author of ‌The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan​​.


Another theory is that the stimulant boosts adrenaline, which increases pressure in your arteries, she says.


Whatever the physiological mechanism, caffeine only seems to have a temporary effect on blood pressure. "This [increase] tends to level off after approximately 3 to 4 hours," Bogden says.

Plus, this effect seems to be less prevalent in people who consume coffee frequently. "The good news is that if you're a regular coffee drinker, you may build a tolerance to the blood pressure-rising effect of caffeine," Moskovitz says.


Still, "there are many others, particularly those who are chronically stressed, who experience the opposite effect," Bogden says. This is because caffeine can trigger the release of more stress hormones.

Indeed, caffeine can activate "the adrenal glands to produce more adrenaline, thus increasing heart rate and constricting blood vessels," Bogden says.

(Video) What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Too Much Coffee


3. Your Heart Health May Improve

When consumed in moderation – a maximum of four cups a day for most healthy folks – your cuppa may come with a constellation of cardioprotective perks.

Case in point: Drinking at least 1 cup of caffeinated coffee a day is linked to a lower incidence of heart failure, per a February 2021 ‌Circulation: Heart Failure‌ study.

Perhaps that's in part because your cup of joe possesses powerful polyphenols. These potent plant-based compounds act as antioxidants and help decrease cell damage, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Not to mention, coffee beans are bountiful in magnesium, potassium and niacin, which are all necessary for a healthy heart.


Taken together, these elements support healthy blood sugar levels, metabolic rate and blood vessel function, per Harvard Health Publishing. This all may account for the association between coffee intake and a decreased risk of heart disease.

However, the kind of coffee you drink on the daily may make a difference. For example, some studies have demonstrated that unfiltered varieties may not promote the vitality of your heart.

In one longitudinal study involving more than a half-million people, drinking unfiltered coffee was tied to a higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, according to research in the April 2020 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

4. It Might Support Your Brain Health

"Caffeine binds to receptors in the brain to block tiredness and improve cognitive function and wellbeing," Moskovitz says.

In moderate quantities, caffeine can improve alertness and concentration, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

It can also support mental health and promote a positive mood. That's what researchers who reviewed data from three large U.S. studies discovered. More specifically, they observed that drinking 2 to 4 cups of caffeinated coffee is tied to a 50 percent reduction in suicide risk compared to drinking decaf coffee or no coffee at all, according to July 2014 research in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry.

The way caffeine interacts with brain chemicals likely plays a pivotal part. In addition to stimulating the central nervous system, caffeine may also serve as a mild antidepressant as it increases the release of certain feel-good brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, per The Harvard Gazette.


But that's not all caffeine can do for your brain. Caffeine can have a positive effect on your memory performance too. Indeed, a January 2014 study in Nature found that the stimulant can help people consolidate long-term memories.

There's also preliminary research suggesting that caffeine is linked to a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's, Bogden says. This effect might be related to caffeine's ability to increase levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and acetylcholine, she says.

The long-term brain benefits of drinking coffee regularly may also be associated with java beans' ample content of antioxidants, which can help prevent damage on the cellular level, Moskovitz adds.

5. You May Experience Caffeine Dependence

"Developing a dependence on coffee is very common," Moskovitz says. This is usually what people mean when they talk about being "immune" to their morning brew.

Caffeine is similar to any other drug including nicotine or alcohol, Bogden says. The more you take in, the more your body can tolerate — ‌and‌ the more you need to achieve the desired effects.

(Video) Drinking Coffee Every Day Does This To Your Body!

"One of the reasons caffeine is so enticing is because of how it makes us feel: productive, energetic, alert and motivated," Moskovitz says.

But these benefits are a result of the way caffeine changes our brain chemistry. Caffeine can block adenosine, a neurotransmitter in our brain that promotes sleep and relaxation, Moskovitz says. That's why it can ward off feelings of fatigue and tiredness.

"However, over time, your body can start to overproduce adenosine [to compensate] and the caffeine fix you grew reliant on can become harder and harder to achieve," Moskovitz says. " You might notice that one cup doesn't do it anymore, and you need two or three to feel functional."


"Further, caffeine withdrawal can be felt more profoundly and become very unpleasant, which just reinforces the need for more coffee to function properly," she adds.

Whether or not you develop a dependence, or the degree of severity, often relates to your genetics, Bogden says. Other factors such as age, lifestyle habits, activity levels, general health and body mass also play a role, Moskovitz adds.

But if you're uncomfortable using caffeine as a crutch, you can decrease your dependence. "The good news is that you can lower your immunity, or tolerance, by slowing weaning off of coffee," she says.

6. Your Risk of Chronic Disease May Decrease

Your love of coffee is linked to longevity and a lower likelihood of chronic health conditions.

Here's why: "Coffee beans are a significant source of disease-fighting antioxidants," Moskovitz says. "These polyphenols can protect against heart disease, certain types of cancer and Alzheimer's."

What's more, moderate coffee intake — between 2 and 5 cups per day — has also been associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, depression and incidence of early death, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Still, there's a significant number of additional factors that play into this equation, such as genetics, gut health and lifestyle, Bogden says.

For example, some of coffee's long-term health benefits may be moot if you stir too much sugar into your cup. "While a few tablespoons of creamer and a few teaspoons of sugar are harmless, if you're having several servings of each per day, it can add up over time," Moskovitz says.

In the long run, excessive sugar intake can contribute to higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes and fatty liver disease, which are all correlated to a greater chance of heart attack and stroke, per Harvard Health Publishing.

7. It Could Help or Hurt Your Gut

Many people rely on their morning joe to get things moving in the bathroom. Yep, the caffeine in your coffee beans can help boost your bowel movements by increasing intestinal motility and reducing the time it takes for poop to move through your GI tract.

Plus, the polyphenols in coffee may even affect the gut microbiota, according to a May 2020 study in Nutrients.

Although coffee may help promote regularity and gut function, especially for those with constipation, it can also exacerbate other gastrointestinal issues in others, Moskovitz says.

For instance, caffeine stimulates the production of stomach acid, which can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn, per the Cleveland Clinic.

And certain people, like those dealing with a microbial imbalance in the gut, will feel the biggest brunt of coffee beans, Bogden says.

Making matters worse, a lot of poor-quality coffee can contain mold, which produces harmful byproducts called mycotoxins that can aggravate stomach problems too, Bogden says.

8. You Might Get Worse Sleep

In small amounts, the caffeine in coffee can help you fend off fatigue (that's probably one of the reasons you drink it!).

But a surplus of the stimulant (more than 4 caffeinated cups a day) can also cause nervousness, heart palpitations, the jitters and insomnia, according to the Mayo Clinic.

(Video) The science of why coffee is good for you

"Sleep can most definitely suffer from caffeine intake, even when consumed early in the morning," Bogden says. There are two major reasons for this.

The first relates to genetics, which determines your ability to effectively metabolize caffeine, she says. Some people are especially sensitive to the stimulant, even in small quantities, which can trigger unwanted side effects like restlessness and difficulty sleeping, per the Mayo Clinic.

The second factor that can affect how you experience caffeine is your age. "Our ability to detoxify as we age becomes less efficient, and this also plays a role [in caffeine's impact on sleep]," Bogden says.

But this sleep-sabotaging effect can have serious long-term consequences. If your coffee habit is hindering your sleep quality every day, over time, it may even increase your chances of developing chronic health problems like heart disease, according to Harvard Health Publishing.


Coffee has a half-life of up to 5 hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In other words, it can take up to 5 hours for your body to flush out half of the drug. So if a cup is compromising your sleep, a safe plan is to ax your afternoon coffee and have your last mug about 10 hours before bedtime.

9. Your Workouts May Get a Boost

"Since coffee is a natural energy booster, it's no surprise that drinking a cup before a workout can improve strength and performance," Moskovitz says.

Bogden agrees: "Coffee is one of the most natural ergogenic aids when it comes to sports."

"If the right amount is consumed approximately 30 to 60 minutes before training, caffeine can increase blood flow and lower the perceived rate of exertion," she says.

And the science backs them up. A March 2019 umbrella review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that caffeine intake enhanced endurance, strength and power during exercise.

"However, regular coffee consumers should note that the exercise-enhancing effects can be diminished if you're drinking a few cups per day," Moskovitz says.

Again, it boils down to your body building up a tolerance. Remember, the more java you sip on a regular basis, the more it'll take to achieve the same results. And this holds true when we're talking about workout performance as well.

Put another way, "you may not see the same energy-boosting benefits as someone who only drinks coffee around their workouts," Moskovitz says.

10. You Might Undereat or Overeat

Coffee can also have an effect on our hunger. In fact, sipping on some joe can suppress appetite, Moskovitz says.

But this may depend on the kind you drink. A small June 2012 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that decaf could significantly decrease hunger and increase certain satiety hormones.

While appetite control might sound appealing to those with weight-loss goals, these hunger-hindering effects can ultimately have the opposite result.

Here's why: If you eat less throughout the day, you deprive your body of fuel when it needs it most. "Once that caffeine wears off, you might find yourself more ravenous than ever as your body tries to catch up on your nutritional requirements," Moskovitz says.

And this may lead to nighttime cravings and unhealthy habits like late-night snacking or binge eating.


(Video) The Ugly Truth About Coffee’s Effects On Your Body



Is it OK to drink coffee all day everyday? ›

Drinking coffee in moderate amounts (about 4 cups daily) is likely safe for most people. Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee daily is possibly unsafe. Drinking large amounts might cause side effects due to the caffeine content.

What happens if you drink 1 cup of coffee everyday? ›

"Some research shows that regular consumption of coffee may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and potentially lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease," says Prest. "Habitual coffee drinking has been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in women."

What is the healthiest way to drink coffee? ›

A study published online April 22, 2020, by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that filtering coffee (for example, with a paper filter) — not just boiling ground coffee beans and drinking the water — was better for health, particularly for older people.

What is unhealthy about coffee? ›

Coffee still has potential risks, mostly due to its high caffeine content. For example, it can temporarily raise blood pressure. Women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding need to be cautious about caffeine.

Can drinking coffee daily be unhealthy? ›

It's true, you can have too much of a good thing. Excessive intake of caffeinated coffee can make you jittery and cause: Increased heart rate. Raised blood pressure.

What does coffee do to your brain? ›

Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it increases activity in your brain and nervous system. It also increases the circulation of chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline in the body. In small doses, caffeine can make you feel refreshed and focused.

Is coffee good for the Kidneys? ›

Studies also show that coffee has protective effects on the kidneys, thanks to antioxidants. Drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).

What is healthier than coffee in the morning? ›

The Benefits of Morning Tea

In short, tea beats any alternative morning drink. Although it may not have the same amounts of caffeine as coffee, nor the same levels of vitamin C as orange juice, tea has a host of other benefits that make the case for tea – hot or cold – being your new choice of drink in the mornings.

What gives energy better than coffee? ›

If you are looking for other caffeine drinks that will not make you jittery, try drinking matcha tea, black tea, yerba mate, kombucha, or masala tea.

What vitamins are depleted by caffeine? ›

Caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, which leads to an increase in urination. As a result, water-soluble vitamins, such as B-vitamins and vitamin C can be depleted due to fluid loss. Research also demonstrated that the higher the level of caffeine, the more it interfered with vitamin D absorption.

Do coffee drinkers live longer? ›

Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day was linked to the largest reduction in early death, compared to people who drank no coffee, according to the statement. Ground coffee consumption lowered the risk of death by 27%, followed by 14% for decaffeinated, and 11% for instant caffeinated coffee.

Who should avoid coffee? ›

"If you regularly experience anxiety or panic attacks, you may want to consider avoiding or reducing your caffeinated coffee intake." Research from General Hospital Psychiatry found that higher levels of caffeine (around 5 cups of coffee per day) could potentially bring on panic attacks in those with existing anxiety.

Why should I quit coffee? ›

Not partaking in caffeine can be good for your blood pressure. Caffeine has been shown to raise blood pressure levels due to the stimulatory effect it has on the nervous system. High intake of caffeine — 3 to 5 cups per day — has also been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

How many cups of coffee is too much a day? ›

For healthy adults, the FDA has cited 400 milligrams a day—that's about four or five cups of coffee—as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects. However, there is wide variation in both how sensitive people are to the effects of caffeine and how fast they metabolize it (break it down).

What does it mean if you drink coffee everyday? ›

Coffee contains high levels of antioxidants. When you drink coffee daily, you increase your levels of protective antioxidants. This is good news for those who have a daily coffee habit.

Is drinking coffee 3 times a day healthy? ›

So how much coffee is the optimal amount to drink to get all the benefits, but avoid the negative side effects? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it's safe for most women to drink three to five cups of coffee a day with a maximum intake of 400 milligrams of caffeine.

What happens if you drink 3 cups of coffee a day? ›

Drinking 2-3 Cups of Coffee a Day Can Lower Your Cardiovascular Disease Risk. A study has found a link between coffee drinking and longer life. It also found coffee was associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Two to three cups per day appeared to be the sweet spot for these benefits.


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