My uncle has this saying … “give me coffee and no one gets hurt.” Ok, so it’s not really a saying, but it’s definitely a fact of life for most of us. Normal Americans consume 2-3 servings of caffeine a day. But for all this caffeine we drink, there is a lot of confusion about the health impacts, especially among athletes who have been known to take caffeine as a performance enhancer.
Probably the most common misconception is that caffeine causes dehydration. Until about two weeks ago, I too believed that my daily cup of joe was causing me to be dehydrated. On the contrary, recent research has shown that caffeine has a diuretic effect and causes dehydration only in very large quantities, like 5 cups of coffee quantities.
Many athletes consume caffeine to improve sports performance. Researchers used to believe that caffeine consumption increased fatty acid metabolism and spared muscle glycogen, resulting in improved performance. It is now thought that caffeine consumption has more to do with improving one’s mental state, and little to do with significant increases in performance. This is because caffeine has similar chemical properties to adenosine, a chemical in the brain responsible for calming you down. When you take in caffeine, it binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain, making you feel alert and awake, and probably happier. Source
Calcium absorption, Cancer, Heart Disease
Many people also believe that caffeine interferes with calcium absorption and can increase one’s risk of cancer and heart disease. All of these myths have proven to be incorrect. In fact caffeine, especially green tea, has been shown to improve health due to it’s high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
So were are sadly living in denial if we think we need that double shot, non-fat, extra foam latte to function before noon. However, caffeine has many notable positive effects even if it doesn’t directly help us break our PR or finish that project we’ve been putting off.
So enjoy that cup of joe.