Can daily coffee intake make you super stressed out?

If you’re drinking a few cups of coffee a day and find yourself stressed out, it might be time to start rethinking your coffee intake habits.

Habitual coffee drinkers showed higher stress levels compared to non-coffee drinkers, with an increased caffeine consumption linked with increased anxiety, according to a new study.

In fact, the brain functions quite differently for regular coffee drinkers. Research published in Molecular Psychiatry and sponsored by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee found that regular coffee drinkers had a reduced degree of connectivity in two areas of the brain — giving them reduced effects such as improved motor control and alertness — compared to non-coffee drinkers.

One of the big takeaways here is that researchers said coffee drinkers had an increase in dynamic activity in several cerebellar and sub-cortical areas of the brain, meaning that habitual coffee drinkers had higher measures of attention, alertness and arousal, and coffee also enhanced their learning and memory. Put simply: people who had coffee daily had an improved ability to focus.

“This is the first time that the effect of regular coffee drinking on the brain’s network has been studied in this level of detail. By using fMRI technology, we were able to observe the effect of coffee on the brain’s functional connectivity and structure, and the differences between regular coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers, in real-time,” Nuno Sousa, professor at the University of Minho School of Medicine, said in a statement. “These findings have – at least in part – helped to provide a mechanistic insight for some of the effects observed in existing research on coffee; such as improved motor control, increased alertness, and benefits to learning and memory.”

Of course, coffee is just a liquid people assume gives them a kick when they need it, but it’s the caffeine that makes the coffee that can provide the benefits people need during the day. The connection to stress and coffee is new; in the past, we’ve known that drinking coffee on an empty stomach can increase the level of cortisol in your body, which helps regulate your immune response, metabolism and stress response.

The impact of coffee in brain function is well known, but recent research has shown that daily coffee drinkers can save themselves form developing deadly cancers like prostate cancer due to chlorogenic acid, which can produce reactive oxygen agents in cancer cells.