For most of us coffee drinking will have no ill-effects – in fact surprising research suggests that coffee-drinkers have a 30 to 60 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. But if you are extra-sensitive to caffeine, drink several cups per day of supercharged espresso or cappuccino, or have cut nutritional corners elsewhere in your diet, a highly caffeinated lifestyle could pose some health problems. Downing more than four cups of regular coffee (or as few as two espressos or other high-caffeine javas) can cause anxiety, insomnia, and nervousness. Experts say that once your body is used to caffeine, it probably doesn’t affect blood pressure, but some research suggest that in the short term the amount of caffeine in two to three cups of coffee can raise systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3 to 14 points and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 4 to 13 points.
Think you are drinking too much coffee and you want to cut back? Here are some tips for you:
Skip caffeinated coffees, teas, and soft drinks after noon. If you drink caffeinated drinks for their energizing effects, drink them in the morning and leave it at that. Caffeine lingers in your system for three to seven hours. A cup after lunch could create sleep problems at bedtime.
Avoid caffeinated drinks for a few days before your next blood pressure check. If you numbers drop after cutting caffeine, consider switching permanently to decaffeinated versions of your favorite drink.
Get plenty of calcium. If you love coffee but hate dairy products, take care of your bones by taking enough calcium supplements to get 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. Also schedule a bone-density test. Studies show that coffee-loving women who also got less than 740 milligrams of calcium a day (the amount of two glasses of skim milk and a half-slice of American cheese) lost bone density faster than women who drank less coffee – or got more calcium. If that’s you, make up for lost time by increasing your calcium intake and getting a bone-density scan to see if you need help bolstering your bones.
Switch to decaf slowly. If caffeine is jangling your nerves, but you love the taste, buy a bag of decaffeinated coffee and one of your favorite caffeinated blends. Mix a little decaf into your morning brew. Over the course of a month, add more and more decaf and less and less caffeinated. Your taste buds will adjust, and you’ll feel less anxious without all that caffeine.
The take away here? Coffee has many benefits, in moderation. So my advice for living a longer life is to watch how much you consume everyday. One or two cups of coffee will give you many benefits, but if you are downing a lot more each day you may want to check out the tips above and also cut back on some of your coffee drinking.
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