The Straight Dope, Please, on Benefits to Reducing or Eliminating Caffeine in your Diet

I drink a latte almost every morning, and have about four diet caffeinated sodas through the day.

I’m curious what is likely to happen if I get rid of caffeine in my diet. I don’t mean in terms of withdrawal symptoms. I am wondering whether there are clearly established benefits to getting rid of caffeine in one’s diet.

Life without caffeine would be boring.

But, you would do good to get rid of the diet sodas. Any kind.

Why?

Caffeine consumption negatively affects sleep quality.

(I cut out caffeine earlier this year and definitely found that my sleep improved.)

My doctor put me on no more than one cup of coffee a day last year, and my heartburn got noticeably better.

I gave up coffee a couple of years ago. Before that I felt really dull in the morning, and couldn’t start doing anything until I had some coffee.

That heavy, dull, tired feeling in the morning is actually* due to coffee addiction itself*.

If you get over the barrier of the first few days without coffee, then you’ll find that you start to wake up feeling alert and energetic, without the need or desire for coffee.

Overall, you will feel more energy and clarity than depending on caffeine hits, which give a temporary burst of energy, and then dullness and tiredness later.

Coffee is easier to give up than many other addictive substances. Reduce it over a few days. When you feel a need for coffee, have decaf, or have tea which has less caffeine, then after a day or two cut out the caffeine completely. It doesn’t take very long to get it out of your system.

Not the caffeine per se but overall a few cups of coffee a day is strongly correlated with better health outcomes.

The amount of caffeine in the op’s described consumption is under the amount of caffeine in those three to five cups of coffee a day that are clearly not harmful. As BetsQ’s link suggests though: “Individuals who suffer from sleep abnormalities should avoid caffeinated coffee during the evening hours.”

Diet soda has its own other controversies, entraining the body to sweet tastes if nothing else. But the caffeine in four sodas is not the issue.

There are no clearly established benefits to getting rid of caffeine in one’s diet.

Some research showing negative effects of coffee, with sources:

http://www.caffeineinformer.com/harmful-effects-of-caffeine

It has summaries and links for:

[ul]
[li]More than 4 cups of coffee linked to early death.[/li][li]Caffeine consumption may raise blood pressure.[/li][li]Increased risk of heart attacks among young adults.[/li][li]Caffeine linked to gout attacks.[/li][li]Breast Tissue Cysts In Women.[/li][li]Caffeine could cause incontinence.[/li][li]Caffeine may cause insomnia.[/li][li]Caffeine can cause indigestion.[/li][li]Caffeine can cause headaches.[/li][li]Caffeine could reduce fertility in women.[/li][li]Caffeine and Miscarriage Risk[/li][li]Caffeine may not be healthy for type 2 diabetics.[/li][li]Caffeine Overdose.[/li][li]Caffeine Allergies.[/li][li]Caffeine causes more forceful heart contractions.[/li][li]Worse Menopause Symptoms.[/li][li]Caffeine consumption can lead to increased anxiety, depression and the need for anxiety medication.[/li][li]Caffeine increases the amount of sugary beverages consumed.[/li][li]Caffeine inhibits collagen production in the skin.[/li][li]Caffeine interferes with ossification and could also lead to greater risk of bone fractures.[/li][li]Caffeine Does Not Help With Prolonged Sleep Deprivation[/li][li]Caffeine May Impair Hearing Loss Recovery[/li][/ul]

… Do not taunt caffeine.

I’d advise tapering off rather than stopping abruptly, just because the withdrawal symptoms can be physically uncomfortable (headaches, for example, that seem to resist OTC painkillers)

I concur. I believe the artificial sweeteners in the diet colas are causing you a lot more problems than the caffeine.

They typically cause a low-grade background headache most of the time. Do you have that?

No.

This topic has been covered a few times on sdmb I think, and as far as I can tell the research indicates no direct ill effects from any of the currently marketed artificial sweeteners. (There’s the indirect effect that some people end up taking in more calories as a result of a perceived ‘savings’ stored up by using artificial sweeteners.)

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I’ve heard that artificial sweeteners increase the craving for actual sugar. But my diet is virtually sugar-free except for some fruit. It’s not like I have candy bars lying around, tempting my will power. So if I don’t succumb to the craving, if any, what’s the harm?

Anecdotally, cutting out caffeine completely does make a positive difference in sleep quality/morning alertness on this end.

Yes. I love coffee and I’ve yet to hear many significant health problems associated with it, but it definitely makes it about 50% less probable that I’ll get any sleep during my nap on Sunday. And I know many more people who’ve had to lower or eliminate their caffeine intake because it messes up their important nightly sleep.

It’s not necessarily unhealthy, but it can screw with your sleep schedules.

My alarm goes off at 5 a.m.

The last thing I want at 5 a.m. is to feel “alert and energetic”.

[ul]
[li]More than 4 cups of coffee linked to early death. Yes, more than what the op describes had a 21% increase in all-cause mortality and were also likely to smoke and have poor fitness.[/li][li]Caffeine consumption may raise blood pressure. Mainly in those who do not normally drink it. Why do we care about BP? Because it is a proxy for cardiovascular/stroke disease (CVD) risk. Regular moderate coffee consumption lowers CVD risk, “with the lowest CVD risk at 3 to 5 cups per day, and heavy coffee consumption was not associated with elevated CVD risk.”[/li][li]Increased risk of heart attacks among young adults. See above.[/li][li]Caffeine linked to gout attacks. In those with gout who binge.[/li][li]Breast Tissue Cysts In Women. Okay, correlated with more likelihood of a benign condition.[/li][li]Caffeine could cause incontinence. Well … caffeine causes more urine production and triggers bladder contractions so no shock that high intake may cause issues in women at risk. None seen at moderate intake levels. [/li][li]Caffeine may cause insomnia. And if it does don’t drink it at night.[/li][li]Caffeine can cause indigestion.[/li][li]Caffeine can cause headaches. Uncommonly for both especially at moderate levels and if so cut back.[/li][li]Caffeine could reduce fertility in women. The study linked was one mouse model showing contractions in the Fallopian tube and riffing from there. Meanwhile the consensus expert guidance is that one or two cups a day at least is not likely to have any impact on fertility or on pregnancy outcomes. [/li][li]Caffeine and Miscarriage Risk See above.[/li][li]Caffeine may not be healthy for type 2 diabetics. Coffee consumption decreases the risk of diabetes and is not associated with adverse health outcomes among diabetics.[/ul][/li]So on.

Really, this NYT article covered it well. The consensus thatmoderate coffee intake is healthy is much more solid than most think.

Also, anecdotally, I cut out all caffeine for 6 months and noticed no difference whatsoever. I consumed about what the OP describes. Tangentially, I also became a vegetarian for a year and noticed no differences in my health.

Cite?

What is the first thing?

I note that people in this thread are talking about two different things, coffee and caffeine. It’s possible to have either one without the other. And while coffee, for instance, might well contain antioxidants (many plant products do), caffeinated cola almost certainly does not.