When someone asks the million dollar question, is coffee bad for your kidneys, the answer should start with a clarification. Most experts agree that coffee beans are not inherently bad or good for health. It is the caffeine which makes the question more complicated.
A Natural Stimulant
Is coffee bad for your kidneys should read more like is caffeine bad for them? A natural stimulant, caffeine is one of the most frequently used ingredients worldwide. Often talked about in a negative light, it is a substance that has been regularly linked to anxiety and sleeplessness. Despite that, some studies suggest that not only it does not have any negative side effects, it may have health benefits when used moderately.
With caffeine, that is the keyword, moderation. When consumed abundantly, it is known to contribute to the development of various diseases, including heart and kidney problems. So the question shouldn’t be is coffee bad for your kidney, but rather is caffeine bad for them, and the answer is more than likely no.
The Kidney Angle
When people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) visit their doctor, one of the most frequent questions they ask is, is coffee bad for your kidneys? The answer is that it depends, but dietary habits are more important. One of the best ways to counter, or at least reduce the effects of CKD is changing your diet.
Coffee is always part of that discussion. According to legend, the delicacy was discovered in Ethiopia more than 1000 years ago. A nice tale, but it is more likely that it was Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist who first identified the plant in his publication called “Species Plantarum”.
Although its origins are unclear, we know that during its long and storied past, caffeine has been on and off the list of banned substances. Whether the reason was religion or caffeine’s supposed role in the development of health problems, there were always people, who were interested in seeing this substance taken out of circulation.
Caffeine currently isn’t banned in any country around the world, and although billions of people have an infatuation with it, a few loud members of the dietitian and medical society still heavily scrutinize it despite the lack of relevant studies. Some books mention it as the devil’s substance that can cause sexual hysteria.
From an Objective Point of View
Is coffee bad for your kidney? The effects come down to one factor, and that is dose. How much caffeine one consumes on occasions, or daily? A single cup has – depending on the strength of the beans – anywhere from 100 to 200mg caffeine in it. People, who have a caffeine intolerance have to drink decaf variants, but for healthy people, a daily dose of 400 or 500mg shouldn’t cause any problems.
What about People with Medical Conditions?
There is evidence that suggests coffee can cause sudden, temporary spikes in blood pressure. This is even truer for people, who are not used to drinking coffee, and only do it habitually. The effects can be significantly stronger in the elderly, the young, and those who have a blood pressure problem.
High blood pressure is not an ideal condition for coffee drinking. The other aspect is the known link between hypertension and kidney problems. People who have high blood pressure are much more likely to develop kidney conditions down the road.
Under these specific circumstances, the question is coffee bad for your kidneys starts to make more sense. For those suffering from high blood pressure, it just might, although the evidence is actually lacking.
The aggregate data haven’t found a significant link between heavy coffee drinkers and those with CKD. From the data, it appears that those, who only drink two, three, or a maximum of four cup of coffees daily, should be fine.
The Average Joes Are Not In Danger
It is important to note that none of this can be extrapolated to the whole society. There are people, who are more susceptible to kidney disease and other conditions, and for them, that daily limit of three to four cups may just be too high. The same goes for small children and the elderly.
The data only suggests that the average healthy person should be able to consume that amount of caffeine on a daily basis without having to face any negative side effects. People, who suffer from caffeine sensitivity or have high blood pressure, should not drink nearly that much coffee, if any at all.
The same goes for People with PKD (Polycystic kidney disease). Some studies have found that excessive caffeine intake for people with PKD aggravated their conditions, including one of the main symptoms, high blood pressure. Some of these people had to face eventual renal failure.
The “is coffee bad for your kidneys” question that should be asked individually, and each person should answer the question based on his or her health history and lifestyle. If someone doesn’t fit any of the above mentioned categories, he or she is probably safe to consume coffee.
Studies that Found Positive Health Effects
Is coffee bad for your kidneys comes down to a number of individual factors, but for healthy people, the answer is almost certainly no. No study indicates a clear link, whereas the opposite is not true. Numerous studies identified coffee as a common denominator for increased life expectancy and improved health.
A meta-analysis regarding the association of coffee drinking with all-cause mortality found that people who drank 2-4 cups of coffee daily, cut their risk of dying by almost 15%. On average, that would add more than two years to someone’s life.
So is coffee bad for your kidneys? The evidence suggests that for healthy individuals, it isn’t. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true. Those, who don’t have any health problems, may look forward to a reduced rate of mortality thanks to their coffee drinking habits. Numerous studies have found a link between improved health and coffee drinking, suggesting that the age-old saying that moderation is key, may just be true for coffee too.