10 Coffee Side Effects You've Probably Never Heard Of, But May Change Your Drinking Habits

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I love my two daily cups of coffee (preferably an almond cappuccino, should anyone wish to buy me one.) It's a ritual for me, an indulgence, the perfect end to both breakfast and lunch. But as much as I love the taste of coffee, honestly, the main reason I drink it is for the caffeine. It gives me a much-needed jolt of energy, and helps make an immediate difference to my alertness and output. But there are some other unexpected side effects of drinking coffee you might not be so familiar with.

Being the coffee lover that I am, I decided to do some research on my favourite beverage and spoke to an expert. What can I actually expect to happen after downing my (currently iced) coffee? Are the horror stories I've read on the Internet actually true? Well, its effect is surprisingly quick to take hold. In fact, the facts may make you think twice about turning on the kettle or have you changing your order at the counter. On the flip side, it may have you happily reaching for your third cup of the day. Either way, here is the truth about the effect coffee has on the body; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

1. Those Dehydration Rumours Aren't True

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First up, don't believe the myth that coffee dehydrates you. It's now commonly thought that although coffee is a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more frequently, its water content actually contributes to hydration, according to research conducted by the Scientific Information on Coffee. But while it may or may not count as part of your eight daily glasses, you should also try and stay hydrated through pure water.

2. Coffee Increases Heart Rate

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Much like running, coffee does increase our heart rate, according to a 2014 study in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications. It also increases blood pressure, according to Reader's Digest, but this effect is temporary.

4. It Makes You Happy

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Drinking coffee also increases our dopamine levels, one of the happy hormones, according to a study published in Translational Psychiatry. Ever notice you feel good after drinking a cup? That's why. It's also what makes attempting to withdraw incredibly difficult.

5. It Also Has A Laxative Effect

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Coffee has an impact on the colonic muscles. In layman terms, this means it makes you poo, according to SELF. It's because caffeine stimulates muscle contractions in the large intestines, according to a piece in the Huffington Post. It all makes sense now, doesn't it?

6. It's Not Great For Anxiety

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Coffee can also spark anxiety and panic attacks in some people. It sharpens your focus, makes you think quickly, and increases blood pressure, according to John Greden, professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. Coffee can also cause sweating: all common symptoms of an anxiety attack. The more you drink, the more likely this seems to be, so if in doubt, reduce your number of cups.

7. It May Make Your Bladder Unhappy

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Drinking coffee can also irritate the bladder, making women more likely to have urinary incontinence issues, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases. However, this and indeed many of these negative side effects only happen in extreme cases, and for most people, drinking a cup or two of coffee a day is fine. In fact, it can even have surprising positive effects on the body.

8. But, Coffee Is Liver-Friendly

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Sarah Flower is the nutritionist at Skinny Coffee Club, and she extols the virtues of drinking coffee. It can help protect against liver damage and liver cancer, if you drink up to three cups a day, she says, and can also lower the risk of developing Type Two diabetes. She tells me: "This is because it is believed to reduce sensitivity to insulin."

9. And It Has A Fat Burning Effect

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Drinking coffee also boosts our metabolism, stimulating thermogenesis, which can ultimately help us burn more fat. "Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, which helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates as well as stimulating the hormone epinephrine, which helps break down the fat," Flower adds. However, this fat burning effect diminishes the more coffee you drink.

10. It Can Help Lower Risk Of Certain Cancers

Susana Ramírez

It can also reduce the risk of certain cancers, Flower says, "especially for cancers of the liver and uterus...according to a study published in the BMJ, coffee can reduce our risk of prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, melanoma, oral cancer, leukaemia and liver cancer."

Clearly, coffee is doing more for our body than just giving us that caffeine boost in the morning. It's good to be aware of all the side effects, negative and positive, and be vigilant if you notice any thing remiss. I guess this advice rings true here: everything in moderation.