Some people swear they’re non-functioning and zombie-like until they get their morning cup of joe. Some people can drink coffee at 8 pm and go to bed three hours later with no problem falling asleep. How coffee affects the body is different for everyone.
Although many people first think of how the caffeine in the drink affects their bodies, coffee can affect your body in several ways, from heart health to brain memory. Some studies indicate that caffeine may even help sexual health.
Many studies show there are health benefits to drinking coffee – but what exactly does that look like? We’re here to give you the lowdown on just precisely how coffee affects your body – and what happens if you drink too much.
How Caffeine Affects the Mind
Coffee may be good for your brain, studies show.
As a stimulant, caffeine blocks receptors for a chemical called adenosine (harvard). This essentially lets “brain-sparking chemicals” move better.
This, in turn, gives your brain a boost and helps you feel less tired and more energized.
One Harvard study (harvard) linked more coffee intake with lower rates of depression. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed data from 51,000 women over a period of ten years.
The results found that those who ingested more caffeine per day had lower rates of developing depression.
“Women who drank the most caffeinated coffee per day were 20% less likely to develop depression than women who drank the least. Other sources of caffeine — such as tea, soda, and chocolate — did not have an impact on the risk of depression,” a statement on the study said.
Women who drank 550 milligrams of coffee per day had the least likelihood of developing depression. The study noted this connection in the data but acknowledged that other factors could have influenced lower rates of depression as well.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an average cup of coffee has around 100 milligrams of caffeine. This meant the women in the study with the lowest rates of depression would have drunk around 5.5 cups of coffee a day.
The Mayo Clinic says it’s safe to drink around 400 milligrams a day – so don’t go chugging gallons of coffee to try and boost your brain. Know your caffeine tolerance, and be mindful of how adding or taking away any caffeine from your routine may affect you.
How Long Will Caffeine Remain in Your System? We go over this and other caffeine-related questions in our article, This Is How Long It Takes Coffee to Kick In?
Will Coffee Help My Memory?
Studies show coffee may play a role in helping keep your memory in tip-top shape. One study published in the National Institute of Aging showed that people who drank more caffeine did better on brain tests.
Another study on rats published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information said that “coffee, in easily achievable amounts, may reduce both motor and cognitive deficits in aging, similar to prior studies with berries, nuts, and other fruits and vegetables.”
The brain boost was seen not just due to caffeine, the study said – but also thanks to “polyphenols and other bioactive compounds in coffee.”
Another study from Johns Hopkins University found that people who consumed caffeine could remember more items from the day before on a memory test than those who did not have caffeine.
So yes, science shows coffee will likely help your memory.
While there is extensive evidence to show caffeine boosts both short-and long-term memory, other studies show that other elements of your cup of joe also help boost your brain.
Does Caffeine Change My Attitude?
Although coffee may make you a perkier, happier person in the morning, it can also have adverse effects on your mood.
The American Psychological Association notes that too much caffeine can cause several negative side effects. This may include difficulty sleeping, irritability, and jitters.
Due to the addictive nature of caffeine, it can also negatively impact your mood if you stop drinking it suddenly. Similar to having too much caffeine, cutting it out of your daily routine abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms – like cravings, headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and even depression. This can leave you feeling crabby or irritable – which is less than ideal.
A cup or two throughout the day as part of your usual routine may keep you feeling energized. Be cautious of how too much caffeine, or how abruptly removing it from your daily routine – may adversely affect you, however.
Will Coffee Dehydrate Me?
Although a cup or two of coffee likely won’t leave you feeling dehydrated, research shows that drinking an excessive amount might have mild effects.
Some studies show that caffeine is a diuretic. This means it will make you pass urine more quickly. As your body lets off fluids, if this happens too quickly and you’re not drinking enough water, it can be hard on your body.
Make sure to check out our article, This Is How Long to Wait After Waking Up to Drink Coffee!
Overall, it looks like you’d have to drink a lot of coffee for this to happen as you’re replacing fluid as you drink as well.
If you’re drinking too much caffeine, it may prevent your body from absorbing all the essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy and strong as you pass fluids.
Although research is varied, the best thing to do is to listen to your body. If you notice an extra cup of coffee makes you feel a little more parched than usual, add an extra glass of water to keep hydrated.
To avoid any possible adverse effects of absorption of vitamins and minerals – make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet. Everything is about moderation and balance.
Does Coffee Improve Heart Health?
Studies show that coffee may improve not only your brain health – but also your heart health.
Although people may think of caffeine as hard on the body, experts noted that studies had shown the opposite – and research indicates it may be beneficial for heart health.
One analysis of three studies published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure from the American Heart Association found that as people drank more regular, caffeinated coffee, their risk of heart failure decreased.
In one of the studies, with each cup of coffee that people drank per day, their risk of heart failure dropped by a staggering 5%-12%. Another one of the studies found that while one cup of coffee per day did not seem to have a benefit, two cups of coffee did.
Experts noted, however, that too much caffeine can cause undesirable effects – like jitteriness and anxiety. Cheers to heart health with a modest few cups of coffee a day!
How Does Coffee Affect Your Circulatory System?
One study found that in healthy individuals, caffeine improved cell function related to the circulatory system.
In the study, (harvardhealth) scientists measured what’s called endothelial function. These cells are found inside your arteries and are in contact with your bloodstream.
These endothelial cells produce nitric oxide – a crucial part of the circulatory system, as they help your arteries from being clogged and open to allow them to function.
Scientists discovered that in participants who drank caffeine, their endothelial cell function was improved after – meaning coffee may boost your circulatory system. As always, listen to your body – and your doctor – to do what’s best for you.
Although it may provide some benefits, caffeine at the moment also causes your blood pressure, insulin levels, and maybe even cholesterol to go up, according to Harvard researchers.
While research goes back-and-forth on risk versus reward, the overall consensus from experts is that you should listen to your body – and drink coffee in moderation. Don’t go chugging six cups a day just yet to try and improve your blood system health.
Does Coffee Affect Sexual Health?
Research shows that coffee may not only give you more energy – therefore increasing sexual performance – but that it may also serve as a natural aphrodisiac.
One study published in the Journal of Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior found that female rats who were given caffeine returned to male rats quicker after mating.
This indicates that caffeine may boost sex drive.
Another study found that in men who had erectile dysfunction, those who consumed modest amounts of caffeine had a better sexual performance overall. Those who drank between 171 to 303 milligrams of caffeine per day had lower rates of erectile dysfunction.
One study from Mindlab International found that women perceived men as more attractive when smelling coffee than when they didn’t smell it. This effect was even greater in women the more they enjoy drinking coffee.
While research is early, it doesn’t seem there’s any harm in the bedroom in having a couple of cups of coffee a day.
The Downside of Drinking Too Much Coffee
Although we love a morning, and afternoon (heck, sometimes even evening) cup of coffee, there’s unfortunately “too much of a good thing.”
While a tiny bit of caffeine can give you a much-needed boost of energy in the morning or afternoon, too much may leave you feeling anxious or jittery. If you drink too much at once, it can also leave you with a caffeine crash, making you feel even more tired than before you drank it.
Additionally, coffee or caffeine found in coffee rather is a diuretic. This essentially means it pushes your body to release fluids faster. This can leave you feeling dehydrated and keep your body from absorbing all the essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy and strong.
Some researchers argue that the effects of caffeine as a diuretic are minimal. They may even say that drinking coffee counts toward your daily intake as it’s made with water.
Although research varies slightly, it’s always best to listen to your body.
To avoid getting dehydrated from an excess of caffeine, make sure you’re eating a proper balance of a healthy diet and drinking enough water.
While an extra cup may give you an afternoon pick-me-up, three cups at once may leave some people feeling restless. Just listen to your body and your doctor on what’s best for you.
While people may first and think of coffee benefitting their bodies in a morning or afternoon pick-me-up, research shows the effects on your body may go far beyond that.
Caffeine and other compounds found in coffee can affect many parts of your mind’s health, from improving memory to mental alertness.
Coffee can also affect your body in a physical sense. Modest amounts appear to lower your risk of heart disease, and it may even help sexual health and act as an aphrodisiac. However, too much caffeine can cause a range of negative effects on your body, causing everything from jitteriness and anxiety to dehydration, according to some research.
Overall, a cup or two (or a few) may provide health benefits for your body. Just be sure you’re not chugging cold brew by the gallon to avoid having any adverse effects from too much caffeine.
A few cups a day may keep the doctor away, but just be mindful of how adding or taking any extra out of your daily routine may affect you individually. Everyone’s coffee tolerance is different.
Also, make sure to check out our article on how to prevent heartburn from coffee.