Coffee and Immunity: Friends or Foes?

Healthy lifestyle

Coffee and Immunity: Friends or Foes?

October 30, 2020


Coffee has become popular due to its obvious benefits: it helps to maintain vigor and even provides a “dopamine” effect, maintaining an upbeat mood for a long time. But is it good for your health? We learn from Jenna Maccioka’s book “Immunity”.


Those who regularly drink coffee often have lower levels of markers of inflammation in their blood. The antioxidants in this drink help prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurological disorders. Coffee is also believed to lower the risk of cancer.

However, enthusiasm for these miraculous properties must be treated with caution: there is no evidence that coffee reduces the risk of death, and all the surprising effects can only be explained by the fact that drinkers are generally healthier.


Caffeine increases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This decreases the ability of the immune system to fight infections. It also negatively affects the quality of sleep and leads to insomnia. With an overdose of caffeine, irritability, anxiety increase, and heart palpitations occur.

There are a lot of people among us who are really addicted to caffeine. Here you wake up at the alarm clock, feel the usual morning lethargy and quickly pour yourself some tea or coffee to invigorate. The tradition of starting the morning with a dose of caffeine is deeply rooted in culture – but don’t you think that this ritual is just draining, rather than invigorating? Some people manage to limit themselves to one morning cup and feel great. However, the daily hustle and bustle forces many to keep a high pace and drink coffee all day to cope with fatigue.

One cup just for pleasure is no longer enough: having failed to recuperate overnight, we increase and increase the dose of caffeine, falling into a vicious circle.

On average, when consuming more than 1.5 grams of caffeine per day, a person begins to feel unpleasant symptoms of caffeine dependence: anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, even increased urination and digestive problems.

How much to drink?

A dose in the range of 400 milligrams of caffeine (about 3-4 cups of coffee with a volume of 250 milliliters) is considered safe and acceptable for a healthy adult. More than 100 milligrams per day is not recommended for adolescents.

However, it must be remembered that the half-life of caffeine (the period of time during which half of the dose received is excreted from the body) is unique for each of us and depends on age, weight, medications taken and genetic factors; this period also changes during pregnancy. In a healthy adult, the half-life of caffeine is 5-6 hours, so it is worth making it a rule to avoid coffee after lunch.

If you think you can have an espresso after dinner and sleep well, you are probably wrong: even if you sleep all night, the quality of your sleep suffers.

Cortisol levels peak in the morning, but rise at lunchtime and in the evening. And if you drink coffee some time after breakfast, but before lunch (say, between 9 and 11 a.m.), you can compensate for the natural decrease in blood cortisol. With this approach, a coffee break is sensible and healthy.

Based on materials from the book “Immunity”

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