If you depend on your morning cup of coffee to get you up and running and a few more necessary sips
to power you through the day, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans use caffeine as a daily stimulant
to boost their energy levels and improve their focus in their increasingly busy lives. However, there is
such a thing as too much of a good thing, and overconsumption of coffee can lead to a range of health
What’s So Bad About Coffee?
Nothing, in and of itself, but the central issue in high levels of coffee consumption is the amount of
caffeine placed into the body as a result. Caffeine is a compound that naturally occurs in a number of
plants, including coffee beans. In nature, it functions as a powerful insecticide, but in the urban jungle,
it’s the pick-me-up of choice and the world’s most widely enjoyed psychoactive drug.
How Much Caffeine is in Coffee?
The average cup of coffee contains approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine, and with the daily
recommended limit defined at 400 milligrams for a healthy adult, this means that most people can
safely enjoy up to four 8 ounce cups of full-strength coffee on a daily basis.
However, the results of drinking too much caffeine can become apparent shortly beyond this limit. Just
an increase of 100 milligrams—a single cup of coffee past the guideline—can lead to insomnia,
nervousness, irritability and an upset stomach. In higher concentrations, caffeine can even cause
irregular heartbeat and muscle tremors.
The potential issues of caffeine overuse go far beyond daily discomfort. A study performed by the Mayo
Clinic indicates that individuals who consistently consume more than 4 cups of coffee per day on
average see their risk of early death rise up to 56 percent. The risks increase even further in the case of
other, more highly caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks and shots, which can contain up to 10
times the caffeine in a cup of coffee, and so use of coffee in conjunction with these beverages should be
limited if not avoided altogether.
While the more severe health effects of regularly drinking excessive amounts of caffeine are sure to
show up eventually, waiting for consistent issues to manifest themselves will ensure that they are more
problematic when they do arise. Instead, it is important to listen to your body’s more subtle signs. As
soon as you suspect that minor changes such as difficulty sleeping or a persistent jittery feeling are
related to caffeine, the best thing you can do is to decrease your intake of caffeine immediately, which
means cutting back on the coffee…or switching to decaf.