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By Julia Haimovich, Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

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Unveiling the Brew Exploring the Multifaceted Relationship Between Coffee and Health
Unveiling the Brew Exploring the Multifaceted Relationship Between Coffee and Health

Current research suggests that a moderate intake of three to four cups per day, each
approximately 250 millilitres, yields favourable health outcomes. These encompass a range
of positive effects on type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, overall mortality, and certain
cancers. (1)

Coffee is not just a beverage; it contains essential fatty acids, soluble fibres, and proteins with
vital amino acids. Linoleic acid, oleic acid, and essential amino acids like leucine and lysine
contribute to its nutritional profile. (2)

Adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for inducing tiredness and fatigue,
binds to adenosine receptors. Caffeine, acting as a block, prevents adenosine binding, leading
to increased sensitivity to dopamine receptors and the release of adrenaline. This interaction
plays a pivotal role in countering fatigue and promoting alertness. (3)

Beyond its stimulating effects, caffeine offers a plethora of health benefits, including
antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, antihypertensive, and
neuroprotective properties. However, caution is advised at higher doses, as excessive
consumption may have adverse effects, such as increased cholesterol levels. (1, 4)

Coffee’s bioreactors, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, play a crucial role in
supporting the immune system. These properties include immuno-modulating reactivity,
antioxidant activity, and the enhancement of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory and
antioxidant responses. (1, 4)

Contrary to common belief, coffee increases stomach acid secretion and pancreatic
secretions, potentially benefiting the digestive process. Moreover, it has a protective effect on
the gut mucosal lining, exhibits a prebiotic effect on gut microbiota, and enhances gut
motility. (5)

Individuals vary in caffeine sensitivity, which can impact sleep patterns. Those with a high
sensitivity, especially possessing the TT variant of the adenosine receptor gene, may
experience sleep disturbances. Higher caffeine doses (>300 milligrams per day) can affect
sleep universally, with disturbance severity linked to habitual caffeine consumption. (6)

Understanding your liking and habitual consumption of coffee may be rooted in your
genetics. Genetic components influence metabolic rates of coffee clearance, as well as taste
preferences and the subjective experience of caffeine, shaping individual coffee consumption
habits. (7)

As we navigate the intricate relationship between coffee and health, it becomes evident that
moderation and individual sensitivity play crucial roles.


  1. Poole R, Kennedy OJ, Roderick P, Fallowfield JA, Hayes PC, Parkes J. Coffee
    consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health
    outcomes. BMJ. 2017 Nov 22;359:j5024. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j5024. Erratum in: BMJ.
    2018 Jan 12;360:k194. PMID: 29167102; PMCID: PMC5696634.
  2. Dong W, Tan L, Zhao J, Hu R, Lu M. Characterization of Fatty Acid, Amino Acid
    and Volatile Compound Compositions and Bioactive Components of Seven Coffee
    (Coffea robusta) Cultivars Grown in Hainan Province, China. Molecules. 2015 Sep
    14;20(9):16687-708. doi: 10.3390/molecules200916687. PMID: 26389867; PMCID:
  3. Daly JW, Shi D, Nikodijevic O, Jacobson KA. The role of adenosine receptors in the
    central action of caffeine. Pharmacopsychoecologia. 1994;7(2):201-213. PMID:
    25821357; PMCID: PMC4373791.
  4. Senftinger, J., Nikorowitsch, J., Borof, K. et al. Coffee consumption and associations
    with blood pressure, LDL-cholesterol and echocardiographic measures in the general
    population. Sci Rep 13, 4668 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-31857-5
  5. Nehlig A. Effects of Coffee on the Gastro-Intestinal Tract: A Narrative Review and
    Literature Update. Nutrients. 2022 Jan 17;14(2):399. doi: 10.3390/nu14020399.
    PMID: 35057580; PMCID: PMC8778943.
  6. Reichert CF, Deboer T, Landolt HP. Adenosine, caffeine, and sleep-wake regulation:
    state of the science and perspectives. J Sleep Res. 2022 Aug;31(4):e13597. doi:
    10.1111/jsr.13597. Epub 2022 May 16. PMID: 35575450; PMCID: PMC9541543.
  7. Yang A, Palmer AA, de Wit H. Genetics of caffeine consumption and responses to
    caffeine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Aug;211(3):245-57. doi: 10.1007/s00213-
    010-1900-1. Epub 2010 Jun 9. PMID: 20532872; PMCID: PMC4242593.
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