If you need a cup of coffee to get your day started, you’re not alone—in fact, you’re in the majority. According to a 2020 study by the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink some form of coffee every day. And while coffee isn’t necessarily unhealthy, there are a few bad coffee habits that can contribute to faster aging depending on how you drink it.
We consulted Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of NY Nutrition Group, author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan and member of our Medical Expert Board, to find out exactly what to avoid next time you go to grab a cup of coffee. And for more healthy tips, be sure to check out the 4 Best Morning Drinking Habits To Support Gut Health.
Many say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so of course, replacing it with coffee can’t be good for your overall health.
According to Moskovitz, “skipping this prime meal time can lead to a less nutritious diet,” specifically, one that goes against healthy aging. And according to various research studies, skipping breakfast and just drinking coffee can lead to some serious health complications as well.
A study about meal schedules found that eating patterns where the participant regularly skipped breakfast were associated with more cognitive decline than the patterns that had more balanced meal times.
Instead of skipping breakfast and going straight to coffee, Moskovitz suggests going for “a breakfast consisting of fresh fruit, whole grains, and nuts or seeds” for a morning meal packed with fiber and antioxidants.
If you’re not about drinking your coffee black and would rather add in creamers and sweeteners, fair warning: it could affect your health, depending on how much you add.
“Moderate amounts of sugar in your diet is okay, but going overboard with sugar packets every time you need a pick-me-up may stack up over time,” says Moskovitz.
Specifically, as you age, you could be looking at a major increase in blood sugar, inflammation, and many other health conditions. One study also found that consuming higher amounts of added sugar was associated with greater “frailty” in older adults, meaning there were more cases of unintentional weight loss and less physical activity.
Consuming too much sugar on a regular basis can also contribute to faster aging skin as well. When you consume too much sugar, it can form AGEs (advanced glycation end products), which are damaging to your skin’s collagen levels, therefore contributing to reduced elasticity over time.
Remembering to drink water is a habit that many often forget, but when you’re drinking lots of coffee, it can be a recipe for dehydration and disaster when it comes to your overall health.
According to Moskovitz, forgetting to chase your caffeine with water, “can lead to dehydration that can negatively impact your skin, digestion, energy levels, nutrient absorption, and even joints.”
When it comes to choosing when to drink your coffee, do your best to stick to the morning. Even if caffeine doesn’t keep you awake late at night, that doesn’t mean you should be drinking a cup right before bed.
According to Moskovitz, “caffeine is a stimulant that, when consumed too close to bedtime, will disrupt adequate rest. Poor sleep can wreak havoc on recovery, immune system, mood, energy, metabolism, and everything in between.”
Research supports that disrupted sleep is a big deal. According to a UCLA study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, one night of inadequate sleep can age your cells quicker, which can contribute to age-related diseases over time.
Here’s the deal with artificial sweeteners—even if it may seem like it’s a good idea to swap them into your coffee rather than sticking with the real stuff, they actually have a serious impact on your long-term health.
According to Moskovitz, “not only are [these sweeteners] nutritionally void, but non-nutritive sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame can harm insulin levels and gut health, which influences all vital pathways in the body, and lead you to crave more sweets in general throughout the day.”
A previous version of this story was published in November 2021. It has since been updated and fact-checked.