Drinking coffee can help you take more steps daily and keep you active enough, but it will rob you of some sleep than those who don’t drink the brew. A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine examined the impact of coffee on several areas of health, including cardiac arrhythmias, activity level, sleep, and blood sugar, also finding that coffee drinkers had more premature ventricular contractions, or extra heartbeats.
WHAT THE STUDY FOUND
The randomized trial included 100 healthy adult participants, who wore electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors for two weeks. They also used Fitbit devices to track step counts and sleep times, as well as a continuous glucose monitor to track blood sugar levels. They were then assigned to drink coffee for two days or to abstain from caffeine for two days. These random assignments continued throughout the 14 days so that no participant consumed or abstained from coffee for more than two days.
When they drank coffee, the participants took an average of about 1,000 more steps a day and slept about half an hour less at night. They also recorded a 50 percent increase in premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) on coffee drinking days, but not premature atrial contractions (PACs). They also found that drinking coffee did not seem to affect their blood sugar levels. PVCs rarely cause problems and are treatable. However, the results varied between participants, depending on how quickly they metabolized caffeine.
Although coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, its effects on health remain uncertain, varied, and continue to be the subject of research. However, recent studies have found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from some of the leading causes, including coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease. Dr Ajay Aggarwal, Director and Head of Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital, Noida, decodes the new study and discusses its impact for us. Let’s hear it from him:
DO COFFEE DRINKERS EXERCISE BETTER?
Caffeine is known to improve exercise and step count. Studies have shown that in endurance exercise (ie, aerobic exercise lasting more than five minutes, such as running, biking, and rowing), caffeine improves time trial performance. It can be associated with a reduction in muscle soreness and can help during short-term, high-intensity (anaerobic) exercise.
DOES COFFEE STEAL YOUR SLEEP?
As a stimulant, caffeine promotes alertness. It acts as an “adenosine receptor antagonist”. Adenosine is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptor to prevent you from feeling sleepy. Caffeine starts to affect your body very quickly. It reaches a peak level in the blood within 30 to 60 minutes and has a half-life of three to five hours.
Caffeine can have a disruptive effect on our sleep. One study found how it can slow down the body clock and reduce total sleep time, which affects sleep quality. One study found that consuming caffeine six hours before bed reduced total sleep time by one hour. These effects may be stronger in older adults, since it takes longer for their bodies to process caffeine.
DOES COFFEE AFFECT HEARTBEATS?
Intake of unusually large amounts of caffeine, where amounts are generally > 10 g, has been associated with tachyarrhythmias (abnormal rhythms with a ventricular rate greater than 100 beats per minute), including organized supraventricular tachycardia (the heart beats faster than normal). than normal), ventricular tachycardia (heart rhythm problem), and ventricular fibrillation (the lower chambers of the heart contract very rapidly and in an uncoordinated way, affecting the pumping of blood). The ventricular arrhythmias were the result of caffeine toxicity on the cardiovascular system. Therefore, caffeine should be taken in moderation.
WHAT ARE THE POSITIVE EFFECTS OF DRINKING COFFEE?
Caffeine is not only linked to a lower chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, but it may also help people with the condition to better control their movements.
One in 23 women develops a colon cancer. But the researchers found that coffee drinkers, decaf or regular, were 26 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer. Coffee intake has been shown to be beneficial in patients with liver disease and is known to prevent the progression of fibrosis. It is known that the risk of Alzheimer’s and depression has been reduced by the consumption of caffeine.
HOW MUCH COFFEE CAN YOU CONSUME PER DAY?
Moderate coffee consumption, between two and four cups a day, is safe for most adults. The currently available evidence suggests that it may be prudent for pregnant women to limit coffee consumption to three cups, providing no more than 300 mg/d of caffeine, to exclude any increased chance of miscarriage or fetal growth retardation.
SHOULD PATIENTS WITH PCOS LIMIT THEIR COFFEE CONSUMPTION?
Some groups, including people with hypertension, children, adolescents, and the elderly, may be more vulnerable to the adverse effects of caffeine. Also, if someone develops heartburn, nervousness, palpitations, or insomnia, they should reduce their caffeine intake. High levels of caffeine can worsen PCOS symptoms by increasing the stress hormone cortisol, which increases insulin and suppresses progesterone production.