Is your daily coffee fix a good thing or not?

As a Mum sleep can be a luxury. It’s not surprising that some of us might find ourselves relying on the black stuff a little too regularly, but how much is too much and can coffee actually be beneficial?

The daily limit on caffeine intake is 400mg per day (200mg if pregnant).  That is the equivalent of 4 cups of fresh ground coffee.  The amount in instant coffee varies between 30 - 90mg per cup, whilst decaffeinated coffee still contains a small amount, on average 3mg per cup.

How will it affect your sleep?  It is true that the caffeine in coffee may keep some people from falling asleep, but even those that fall asleep may have a lower quality of sleep when coffee has been consumed and wake up still feeling tired.  This can lead to a viscous cycle of needing more caffeine in the morning to revive you, so be wary of drinking coffee before bed. For those who struggle to sleep, it is recommended to have your last caffeinated drink 12 hours before you go to bed.

Can coffee improve your concentration? Coffee does increase our alertness and makes us more focused, but have too much and you may find you become more anxious and suffer from headaches.  Caffeine is also a gut stimulant, so if you suffer from unwanted gut symptoms, it may be worth reducing your coffee intake. 

It’s not just a source of caffeine. Coffee contains many compounds including antioxidants such as polyphenols. Some studies have found that having 3-4 cups a day might reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The same potential benefit has been seen for decaf coffee, so even those that don’t tolerate the caffeine can benefit.  

  • Remember coffees from coffee shops may have more than one shot of coffee per drink, so be mindful of how many of these you consume.

  • Remember caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, and energy drinks, so if caffeine gives you have any negative side effects monitor your intake of these as well. 

  • Watch what you add to your coffee.  Sugar, syrups and powdered flavourings and whiteners containing sugar and hydrogenated fats may do more harm than the coffee itself.

So, the good news is that in moderation coffee can actually be part of a healthy diet. Some of you may find you no longer tolerate large amounts of caffeine in which case do not fear, red wine also contains polyphenols ;)

Mum nutritionRuth Harvey