Coffee and Science... How they both work?

in Natural Medicine2 years ago (edited)


I am writing this post as a follow up from my first post here, in which I presented myself and my "no-nonsense approach to overall health" as @justinparke described it. I really liked how it sound!

In the replies of the mentioned article my friend @manoldochev, by pressure from me, engaged and shared that he is on a quest to stop/reduce caffeine and sugar consumption. If this was a real session, I would ask how much he consumes, Is he sure in his metrics and why he wanna quit these substances?

The obvious answer to the last question would be: They are not healthy!
Then I would continue with questions, why do you think that, what are the drawbacks from them, how are you sure that its them causing the problems, have you read somewhere that they are bad/junk material for you body...

I have led similar conversations thousands of times, I can not predict where my conversation with Moni would lead, but in most cases people have never really confirmed a drawback from consumption of coffee and sugar, still they are absolutely sure that it is bad and on top of that every social media agrees with them.


But what does the science says?

Lets start with coffee.


It has a long history of scientific debates. This fact usually leads to the bias, that science is bullshit and changes every 10 years... but that is another topic. I will assume that my readers here accept contemporary science methods.

So in 1991 based on a few studies WHO (World Health Organization), declared coffee possibly cancerogenic. A thesis that still runs on the internet... Later more studies prove it is not, the observed cancerogenic effect would be probably caused from drinking very hot drinks, over 70C, just like they drink it in Iran, and where part of the studies have been made.

Later coffee was declared unharmful, and even later a healthy beverage, if drunk in moderation.

The last most extensive scientific data is presented in the following umbrella review of meta-analysis:

This is possibly the highest level of evidence in science. Unusually in social media, people say : "A new study found that...." A single study... For science a single study is just a dot in the data.
When sufficient numbers of well made single studies are made they are organized and analyzed, and their combined results are published in reviews or meta-analyses. Sometimes on very well studied subjects, like coffee there are multiple meta-analyses. Best of them can be overviewed in an umbrella review. That is exactly what we have here: an overview of 201 meta-analyses.

And this is what is says:

✔️ "Coffee consumption was more often associated with benefit than harm for a range of health outcomes..."
✔️ "relative risk reduction at intakes of three to four cups a day versus none" for all cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular disease.
✔️ "High versus low consumption was associated with an 18% lower risk of incident cancer"
✔️ "Consumption was also associated with a lower risk of several specific cancers and neurological, metabolic, and liver conditions. "
❗ "Harmful associations were largely nullified by adequate adjustment for smoking, except in pregnancy, where high versus low/no consumption was associated with low birth weight, preterm birth in the first, and second trimester, and pregnancy loss ."✔️❗
❗ "There was also an association between coffee drinking and risk of fracture in women but not in men."

Conclusion: Coffee consumption seems generally safe within usual levels of intake, with summary estimates indicating largest risk reduction for various health outcomes at three to four cups a day, and more likely to benefit health than harm.

So science definitely agrees, that not only coffee is safe, not only it reduces risk of multiple diseases, but also performs best when drinking 3-4 cups a day, quantity that most people would consider high levels of consumption.


What about people?

If you have read my previous article, you would know that I put an individual person on top of the bias-evidence pyramid.


Some would say science work in a mysterious ways, but this graph below shows how exactly study evidence are taken and why individual person can have observations totally different by scientific data:

Looking at the dots you can easily see that most of them are in the bottom left quadrant, so scientists would say that it is most probable that something would have the outcome marked with

  • the big red 1

The least dots are in the top right quadrant, so it is not usual to have outcome marked with

  • the big red 2

Still there would be a person, whose data can be the little dot marked with a red circle and for him, what science agrees on will be the total opposite of what happens with him...

And all of that is the actual reason why good professionals in any field very often give answers like "it depends" or "it has high probability, that" or "lets try and observe", while bad say "this is the only truth and all other is wrong"

I hope you can now have some better understanding of scientific evidence and handle better the random tons of information that claims to be "proved" by a scientist.
A real one would never claim that something is proved for everybody.


Omg... and I was writing about Coffee and Moni's plan to leave it alone... science got me :D, And before I continue, I just realized that I want to write more about when/why coffee is bad.

The bad coffee

Except from the scientific proven harms for pregnant women and women with risk of fractures, I see two more ways of coffee doing harm, not actually the coffee, but our bad decisions.

1. We consume something harmful with the coffee. This can be smoking or drinking too hot drink, or overcooked biscuits or for overweight people, we can consume more calories as sugar/coconut oil/cream/sweets with the coffee. We have two paths - stop coffee or remove the connection.

2. We abuse our bodies! Like every stimulant, coffee makes us more productive, concentrated, pain resistant, and even lift more weight in the gym. And while we have proper rest, sleep, food, happiness - everything is fine, coffee makes us more successful, more happy and more healthy.
BUT when we don't sleep enough, miss important nutrients in diet, overwork or overtrain, then coffee helps us again in our path. The problem is that this path is destructive to our bodies. So coffee helps us take more and more actions in harming ourselves, it lets us take some more hits, before we crash and surrender and sometimes this can be dangerous.



So to keep the conversation going I will ask all of you including @manoldochev some more questions:


1. Do you have observations that the actual coffee harms you in any way.
2. Do you abuse your body resources with the help of coffee?
3. Do you include with your daily coffee ritual any foods or substances that could be harmful to you.

p.s. That got too complex and long, I will talk about sugar some other time. Sorry if you get a headache while reading my stuff, couldn't stop it, just got in the zone and started writing without stopping...


All images, text and illustrations in this post are original content.

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A real one would never claim that something is proved for everybody.

Hard yes to this. And especially about things like diet, which science is all over the board about and as you say, the advice changes all the time. Plus, our bodies are all different!!

For me, coffee helps squash migraines - and I drink it cold in a protein shake.

What is a healthy meal for some, is an allergic reaction for me. What is yummy probiotic yogurt for me, is a lactose intolerance misery for someone else. There just can't be any one-size-fits-all diet advice, and anyone who says otherwise has an agenda and/or is trying to sell you something. ;)



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You are tired, you drink coffee, then you are no longer tired.
Simple. That is how it works. I also drink coffee (mostly in the morning at my workplace), because I used to.

All I know is drink coffee => stay awake more 😁😁

This post made me think about coffee and my I would said it ˝addiction ˝ about it. I never thought that coffee harms me, but I knew that 3 or 4 cups a day are not that good idea. I tried to stop drinking coffee for a few times, but I just couldn't imagine the morning without it.
On second question my answer would be ashamed yes. Sometimes when I drank coffee I don't have needs for eating, I just feel like my stomach already ate something. This is some very bad habit of mine.😕