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

Black coffee:D

I am dubious. Throughout my teenage years, I felt really dull and tired in the morning and found it hard to get going, and I never drank coffee (and seldom anything else with caffeine).

In my case, I attribute that “heavy, dull, tired feeling” I experienced to some combination of lack of sleep, not being a morning person, and possibly dehydration. (If a cup of coffee or can of soda helps get you going in the morning, that may be at least partly because of the hydration rather than just the caffeine.)

I sometimes wonder if my high school years would have been better, academically and socially, if I had been getting caffeine in the morning.

I’m a bit dubious of the impartiality of a site called “Caffeine Informer.” The messages I’ve seen elsewhere about the potential harms (and benefits) of caffeine have been more mixed. See, for example, WebMD’s Caffeine Myths and Facts.

A lot of what I’ve read strongly suggests that caffeine doesn’t affect all people the same way. Everything people are telling you should come with a “Your Mileage May Vary” disclaimer.

I read up on caffeine, and started drinking a cup of coffee every morning.
Helps me wake up and focus (enabled me to get off ADD meds). In the rare case where I’ve had caffeine in the evening I’ve slept fine… so win/win.

Yeah, I think I’d trust Actual Scientists and the Mayo Clinic over

I gave up caffeine because I had stomach issues. I was having acid reflux, and my PPI pills were not keeping it in control. Giving up my darling espresso was what helped. I also don’t have the heavy, blurry feeling in the morning anymore.

I still cheat every once in awhile, usually because I have a headache that aspirin or Tylenol doesn’t help.

There are plenty of quackish websites out there that will tell you that artificial sweeteners are horrible (e.g. Aspartame is, By Far, The Most Dangerous Substance on The Market That Is Added To Foods). Or you could stick with the more reputable sites that will tell you that

A fair cop. It is possible that caffeine per se has harms that are more than offset by other aspects of coffee (and tea for which the data is similarly positive for moderate to high intake) but if one is looking for large n long term public health outcomes correlated with moderate caffeine intake most of the American public will have most of that intake in coffee, and for most Americans the process of eliminating or reducing caffeine intake significantly would mean modification of their coffee habits.

An 8 oz. cup of coffee averages something like 125 mg of caffeine (amounts vary significantly though). A grande latte a bit higher, 150 mg. 12 oz. of diet Coke has 46 mg and it’s on the high side for sodas. Our op’s 4 diet sodas per day has less caffeine than 1.5 cups of coffee and barely any more altogether than the one latte does. Frylock’s total daily caffeine is roughly the same as the amount in the three cups of coffee and we have strong evidence that three cups of coffee a day is minimally not harmful.

Indeed such might not be true for the intake of diet soda be it due to the lack of other beneficial ingredients in coffee and in tea or due to hypothesized harmful impacts of other diet soda ingredients. But minimally any harmful effects of that much caffeine are small enough as to be more than offset by the hypothetical positive impacts of coffee’s other components.

To the degree there is a GQ answer to the op it is, based on expert panel reviews, simply that there are clearly no established benefits to getting rid of caffeine in one’s diet. Posters HOs duly noted and respected for the personal experiences they reflect.

I gave up caffeine entirely (I averaged the equivalent of 5 cups of coffee/day) in the hopes that my insomnia improved. It did not. At all.

OTOH, I have cut back and I suggest that those drinking say, 4 liters or more of sugar free sodas might need to cut back.

It’s pretty safe, but in those amounts, maybe…

Changing caffeine consumption might require a change in coffee habits, but it needn’t be a big change. Instead of your usual vente mocha latte, order a vente decaf mocha latte, or whatever. You’ll still be getting whatever antioxidants are in the coffee, just without the caffeine.

Folks with ADD are obviously a special case, as one of the more notable effects of that disease is that stimulants in general have a very different effect on them than on most people. If caffeine lets you rely less on more potent (and dangerous) stimulants, then that’s obviously great… for you, at least. But it doesn’t say anything about people without ADD.

You of course know that we have good data to support that the three cups of moderate caffeinated coffee a day is associated with good outcomes but not anywhere near as much on what the outcomes are with decaf. It may be the caffeine that is the beneficial part, the antioxidants, the complete whole, we do not know what.

If the op, or anyone else, is not having issues from having moderate amounts of caffeine why would they, or should they change to that which there is less clear evidence is as healthy?

Reading some of these posts, it’s amazing how the coffee addicts twist and turn to find reasons to believe what they prefer to believe.

Could you give me an example? Im dense, I know…

It’s pretty standard that teens and college aged people are especially not morning people. Each of us varies, but for each of us the most night-owl / least early-bird part of our life is ages roughly 14-20.

If you’re having a better early morning experience now as a coffee-drinking adult there’s two reasons: the “coffee drinking” and the “adult”. Teasing out which effect is primary is tough unless we can figure out how to rerun your experiment. :slight_smile:

I had to double-check to see if I had written this post.

This is me, exactly (except I quit caffeine for just one month).

My advise: try it for a month. See how you feel. If no different, fire up the Keurig.

Java jive. Gotta toot them black rails.

I once told a shrink that when I get depressed I get a big cup of coffee and take a walk. He told me I was self-medicating and had a serious drug problem, then gave me a prescription for an antidepressant! (which I did not have filled).

Since study after study shows that moderate coffee us is actually good for you?

I dont even drink coffee.

This is the exact reason why I stopped drinking coffee - it was no particular challenge for me as I don’t really like the taste of coffee much anyway, I quaffed them solely to stay awake and because I like sugar. About 3 or 4 months after I stopped I tried a cup of coffee again and the acid reflux came back much worse than the acid reflux that I had when I did drink coffee regularly. No more coffee for me.

To be persnicketily precise … what they show conclusively is that moderate regular coffee intake is correlated with improved health outcomes controlling for obvious confounders. It still could be true that such is actually a marker for less obvious or measurable confounders.

We need to recognize the fact that moderate coffee intake is the normative behavior in our modern society. According to Gallup 64% of American over 18 years of age drink coffee daily averaging 2.7 cups a day.

Could being a never coffee drinker or even moreso a former coffee drinker, both minority behaviors, be markers somehow of health risks? Perhaps a sensitivity to caffeine or otherwise experiencing coffee as a negative experience or a desire to avoid it for some other reason travels with various health risk predispositions such as personality type or who knows what? The no caffeine group may have an overrepresentation of “sick quitters” and teetotaler personality types, for example. Or may travel with less social connectedness/involvement with greater risk of isolation and loneliness, which cause all sorts of adverse outcomes. Or something else? Or not.

Concluding that associations alone definitively demonstrate that the individual behavior of itself is beneficial is always something to be done with great caution and trepidation.

To state that the evidence shows no benefit to changing from a moderate caffeine intake to a no caffeine state is easy. That was the op. Stating that the association of better health outcomes with moderate intake compared to none is extremely solid is easy. Concluding therefore that the moderate coffee intake per se is good for you is however only something that is suggested by the data.

Yes, if you need to be persnicketly precise . But in any case it’s not “it’s amazing how the coffee addicts twist and turn to find reasons to believe what they prefer to believe.”
Those are solid peer reviewed studies. No “twisting and turning” needed. Moderate coffee consumption* seems *to be good for you. There is no similar evidence that it is bad for you.