The Truth About Caffeine: Debunking Some Common Myths for a Better Understanding
If you’re like us, you probably enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning to help get your brain going. But how much do you really know about that little black beverage? This blog post is meant to address some of the common myths we’ve heard about caffeine and set the record straight with evidence-based, science-driven facts. Caffeine is one of the most widely used stimulants in the world — it’s an additive in many commonly consumed beverages such as soft drinks, energy drinks, and even chocolate. You might be surprised to learn that there are several misconceptions about caffeine and its effects on the body.
Caffeine is incredibly addictive
We’ve all heard it before — caffeine is incredibly addictive. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This common misperception comes from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) definition of “addictive”, which is “any substance that, when ingested, is capable of creating physiological dependence”. This definition is applicable to all substances, including water, which is capable of creating physiological dependence when ingested in high enough doses. Caffeine is a mild psychotropic drug that has certain effects on the central nervous system, particularly in the release of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Caffeine is not physically addictive in the same way that, say, heroin or nicotine are; in fact, it takes much more caffeine to create a physical dependence than many people realize.
Coffee leads to weight loss
While we’re on the topic of caffeine, let’s talk about coffee and its supposed weight-loss benefits. The main claim is that coffee leads to weight loss because of its caffeine content. However, this is blatantly false. In fact, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that drinking coffee actually increases the rate of metabolism by only 3% (compared to 10% for green tea). This means that drinking coffee is not as good for weight loss as most people assume. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to lose weight, coffee isn’t it. It will help you lose weight over time, of course, but you shouldn’t expect it to be a magic bullet.
Caffeine causes dehydration
This is another misperception that has been floating around the internet for a while. It’s important to note that although caffeine has diuretic effects, it doesn’t cause dehydration. Diuretics are substances that prompt the kidneys to urinate more frequently and more urgently, not only excreting excess water but also sodium and other minerals that the body needs to survive. On the other hand, caffeine is a mild diuretic that causes the kidneys to excrete a little more water than usual, but not enough to cause dehydration. Caffeine’s diuretic effects stem from its ability to block adenosine receptors in the kidneys. Adenosine is a molecule that slows down the excretion of water and the reabsorption of sodium. When caffeine blocks adenosine from binding to these receptors, it speeds up this process. In actual numbers, caffeine causes the kidneys to excrete about 1% more water than usual.
Caffeine makes your coffee more beneficial
Many people believe that adding caffeine to their coffee or supplementing with caffeine can make the coffee itself more beneficial. The idea is that caffeine is the most active ingredient in coffee and that adding it to your coffee would maximally increase the benefits. This is not the case. In fact, caffeine is a very cheap substance that is added to coffee, whereas other beneficial compounds like polyphenols are expensive to produce. This is why coffee is typically brewed and not just added with a scoop of caffeine. While caffeine certainly has some benefits, these are often overshadowed by potential adverse effects. In other words, coffee is much more than just caffeine — it also contains polyphenols, minerals, and antioxidants that are potent disease-fighting agents. For example, coffee is a source of lignin, a type of antioxidant that can help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Caffeine is a mildly addictive substance that is commonly found in coffee and other beverages. While it does have some positive benefits, it also has some negative effects that might outweigh these benefits. These negatives include dehydration, a slight increase in blood pressure, and an increase in the production of stress hormones. When consumed responsibly, caffeine can be an effective way to increase alertness, energy, and productivity. It is important to note, though, that each person’s caffeine “threshold” is different. That is, some people can only consume a small amount of caffeine before feeling its effects, while others can consume much larger quantities before feeling any effects.