Coffee and Risk of Falling
The Good News
A recent study in the UK and Spain found that older adults who regularly drink one or more cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of falls and fall-related injuries.
Drinking coffee in moderation:
- Improves attention so you are more aware of situations around you
- Reduces mental fatigue so you can focus on complex tasks
- Improves reaction time so you react more quickly to hazards
- Slows muscle ageing so you maintain your strength and balance
- Reduces cardiovascular changes which affect blood pressure, heart function and circulation.
The not so good news
As always, too much of a good thing can have harmful effects. Excess consumption of coffee can contribute to some negative outcomes which may increase your risk of falls.
- Bone health: substituting tea or coffee for healthy snacks and meals may result in inadequate calcium intake which can contribute to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk.
Dehydration: coffee can cause increased urination and a loss of fluid from the body can lead to headache, dizziness, confusion and muscle cramps.
Medication: caffeine may adversely interact with your medication. Discuss your caffeine intake with your doctor when starting a new medication.
- Restlessness: caffeine can make you feel ‘jittery’ which can affect activities such as driving. Coffee may cause insomnia leading to daytime tiredness and lack of alertness and poor attention.
Coffee intake is recommended in moderation. So, what does moderation mean? Research suggests 400mg per day or less is an acceptable dose of caffeine for the general population. The table below shows the caffeine content of common foods and drink.
How much caffeine is in a single serve?
|Chocolate bar (milk)
|Chocolate bar (dark)
TIPS FOR HEALTHY CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION
Stick to the recommended coffee intake of 1-3 cups per day, or, if you have discussed your caffeine intake with a health professional, whatever they have recommended. Try replacing some cups with decaffeinated coffee. Reduce other caffeine containing food and drink e.g. soft drinks, tea, chocolate.
Ensure that you drink water regularly to offset the dehydrating effect of caffeine. Keep a water handy, particularly during hot weather. Consume fruits and vegetables with high water content.
Consume recommended daily calcium of 1300mg by including calcium-rich foods in your diet. Do not drink caffeinated drinks in place of healthy snacks and meals. If you have osteoarthritis, limit your caffeine intake, and consider alternatives such as herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee.