Let's Poke Holes in Popular Caffeine Myths
You must have heard these popular caffeine myths before, but do you actually believe they are true? Let's explore.
If you’re a fan of coffee, tea, or even soda, you’ve probably heard a couple myths about caffeine. These myths are so widespread that people take them as facts. We’re here to address the most popular caffeine myths and hopefully debunk them for good.
7 Popular Caffeine Myths:
1. Caffeine is addicting
This myth might be the most popularly believed one. Caffeine acts as a stimulant that helps people wake up and ultimately increase their productivity. If you drink coffee regularly, you become accustomed to the feeling that caffeine brings. As a result, you’ll have the “need” to have coffee when you wake up in the morning.
Similarly, people may have withdrawals if they don’t have their morning cup of coffee, which can be misinterpreted as an addiction. In this case, caffeine is more of a dependency rather than an addiction. Caffeine does not qualify as an addiction because it does not cause the brain to want the reward from consuming it to the extent that other addictive substances do, such as drugs and alcohol. Although you may feel withdrawals and dependency from coffee, by definition, it is not considered an addiction.
2. Caffeine is generally bad for you
Coffee and caffeine in general often have a negative reputation/stigma/connotation. However, coffee is known to have various claimed health benefits. Some of its benefits include:
- Linked to a lower risk of death and mortality
- Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and chronic liver disease
- Potential to protect against Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Additionally, coffee is also linked to other claimed benefits including, boosting memory, improving physical performance and burning fat. Coffee certainly does more good than harm. While coffee is not entirely healthy, it’s important to note that everything should be consumed in moderation. The recommended daily limit of caffeine intake is about 400 milligrams. To put it in to perspective, 400 mg is:
- 3-5 cups of coffee
- 10 cans of soda
- 2 energy drink shots
3. Pregnant women should not have caffeine
It goes without saying that women should be cautious about what they eat, drink, and consume while pregnant. While there are various drinks and foods pregnant women should avoid, caffeine is not necessarily one of them.
If it’s not consumed in moderation, too much coffee can lead to side effects such as an upset stomach, headaches, nervousness, and insomnia. During pregnancy, your body processes caffeine at a much slower rate, meaning the caffeine remains in the bloodstream longer than usual. This eventually leads to pregnant women feeling the side effects of caffeine and a much stronger level.
However, this doesn’t mean they have to avoid caffeine entirely. It’s recommended that pregnant women reduce their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams a day (the regular recommendation for an average person is 400mg); however, the American Pregnancy Association still recommends avoiding caffeine and coffee as much as possible during pregnancy.
4. Caffeine is dehydrating
You might feel dehydrated or have a dry mouth after drinking a cup of coffee. Caffeine actually has a diuretic effect, especially when you consume a significant amount of it. Food and drinks that have diuretic effects essentially flush out a lot of sodium and water in our bodies through urine. In other words, it’s not harmful, but coffee can cause us to run to the restroom pretty often. However, you won’t lose any more liquid through urinating than you take in.
Caffeine leads to a higher production in urine, causing us to feel dehydrated. Although this is the case, there are no direct links between caffeine and dehydration. In fact, a study even suggests you can develop a tolerance over the diuretic effect over time. Other food and drinks that also have a diuretic effect are tea, garlic, and watermelon.
5. Coffee can sober you up
Although drinking coffee helps you wake up and increase your alertness, it doesn’t necessarily sober you up. Caffeine doesn’t reduce your blood alcohol concentration. You may feel less tired and sluggish, but nothing about your alcohol intake has changed or magically reversed. Even if you may feel that it has worked, the alcohol is still processing in your body; caffeine doesn’t shorten the amount of time it takes for alcohol to metabolize. That being said, don’t expect to sober up with a cup of coffee and expect to do your everyday tasks easily (especially driving!).
6. Caffeine can stunt your growth
It’s a common misconception that drinking too much caffeine can stunt the growth of children and teens. However, there is no evidence or direct link that caffeine can cause a negative effect to bone health, growth, or development. Of course, drinks and foods that contain a large amount of caffeine such as soda should be consumed in moderation, especially for children.
7. Caffeine is linked to cancer
This myth and assumption has been long studied by health scientists for decades. There has been no actual evidence that coffee is the cause for breast, pancreas, or prostate cancer. However there are studies that suggest that coffee actually might lower the risk to certain types of cancer such as liver cancer. Overall, while there are claimed health benefits to drinking coffee, the risks in terms of cancer are still unclear and are still studied today.