Why Drinking Too Much Coffee Is So Concerning

Simply the smell of coffee is enough to start many people's morning routines. Our love for the drink is proven in everything from the weekly late-night coffee chats we have with close friends to Starbucks' skyrocketing net revenue — it was $26.51 billion dollars in 2019 according to Statista. Coffee is clearly one of America's favorite and most social drinks (at least during working hours), lauded for promoting wakefulness, attention, and energy. But there's always the hazard of having too much of a good thing

Kristen Carli, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness explains, "Coffee has some potential risks, particularly due to its caffeine content. Caffeine can temporarily increase blood pressure, so people with hypertension and the elderly may want to limit intake. Women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding should also be cautious about caffeine."

As described, persons with other health risks or chronic conditions should extra cautious about drinking too much coffee, but what about folks with no known conditions?

Too much coffee can have negative health effects on anyone

Too much coffee can have detrimental effects on almost anyone. Carli elaborates further, "Too much coffee can cause high blood pressure and cause side effects like dizziness, shakiness, headache, abnormal heartbeat, or insomnia. Drinking more than 400 milligrams of caffeine, or three to five eight-ounce cups of coffee, is not recommended." These numbers are just a guideline, and as Diane Vizthum, MS, RD, research nutritionist for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reminds us, "Caffeine tolerance is different for everyone. You want to do what makes you feel good." That may mean a whole cup of coffee is plenty for you, or two cups might be just right.

Vizthum shares, "You can still get some of the potential health benefits by drinking one cup of coffee a day, or even by drinking decaffeinated coffee." These benefits may include a better processing of glucose and resistance to certain disease, but it's important to remember this is specific to coffee — not a sugary latte. Excess added fats and sugars in your coffee drink can pile on problems on top of those listed above, so it's probably best to remember that too much of anything isn't good.