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These are the side effects of drinking too much coffee, according to science

Published Jan 21st, 2021 4:45PM EST
how much coffee is too much
Image: 279photo/Adobe

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  • Coffee is one of the most widely-consumed beverages on the planet, and it’s been proven to have some serious health benefits, but you can still overdo it.
  • Drinking “too much” coffee ultimately comes down to caffeine intake, and researchers have come up with what they believe is the limit.
  • No, you don’t have to hold yourself to just one cup per day, and the amount that is considered “safe” is actually pretty high.

To say that coffee is popular would be a massive understatement. In fact, it’s the second most popular beverage on the planet, trailing behind tea (and, if we were to count it separately, water) at the very top of the list. Oftentimes, when something is very popular, researchers studying it end up discovering a lot of bad things about it. It’s a bummer, but that’s just how things go. Not so with coffee.

Coffee has a whole host of incredible health benefits, from reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s to lowering the chances of developing diabetes and even helping to reduce the risk of stroke. That being said, it’s still possible to drink too much coffee, and based on decades of scientific research, there’s a pretty clear number of cups you should shoot for if you want the health benefits without the drawbacks.

There have been countless studies related to coffee consumption, and the current “best practice” when it comes to indulging in the tasty beverage is to limit yourself to four standard-size cups of brewed coffee per day. That figures to be roughly 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is really the limiting factor in all of this. This recommendation is supported not just by a variety of scientific studies but also by medical experts, such as the staff of the Mayo Clinic.

Things are a bit different if you’re a pregnant woman, in which case you should limit yourself to about half the normal recommended maximum. Likewise, it’s important to remember that this is brewed coffee, not espresso, which is more highly concentrated and therefore contains quite a bit more caffeine. If you take a cup of brewed coffee and dump a couple of shots of espresso in it, you’re rapidly approaching your limit for the day, and that’s after just one cup.

This recommendation also doesn’t take into account other ingredients that people often enjoy in their coffee. If you’re the kind of person that dumps a handful of sugar cubes in their cup of joe every day, you might suffer some ill effects from that kind of sugar intake, and that’s completely separate from whatever benefits or drawbacks the caffeine will provide.

So, when you’re sipping your morning cup of bean juice, you can feel good that it’s providing you with some actual benefits, but just don’t go overboard.