Benefits of Going Caffeine-Free
Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world, and although previous research has shown it can perk up your cognitive function — improving reaction time, for example — other studies have suggested there may be ample advantages to cutting back, or even going caffeine-free altogether.
Here are some of the top benefits you may enjoy if you decide to kick caffeine.
More Sustained Energy Through the Day
When you think of a pick-me-up, does the logo of your favorite coffee place loom large in your mind? While caffeine does provide a temporary surge — it’s a stimulant, after all — most people also experience a subsequent plunge as well, according to Pam Nisevich Bede, RD, who works for Abbott in Abbott Park, Illinois.
“It’s only a temporary effect on your brain that makes you feel less tired,” she says. “Relying on caffeine to power through your day can drive an energy plummet hours later.”
A big part of that process, says Erin Kenney, RD, of Boston, comes from the way the substance triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that kick off your fight-or-flight response. They give you that distinctive lift and buzz, but when they wear off, it can be jarring.
Does Caffeine Consumption During the Day Mess With Sleep at Night?
Caffeine stays in the body for hours after you consume it. Here’s what you should know about how it can affect your slumber.
Better Absorption of Micronutrients
Caffeine can reduce absorption of some vitamins and minerals from food, says Nicole Avena, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City, and researcher on diet and nutrition.
That’s because some vitamins are water-soluble — such as vitamin C and many B vitamins, according to Colorado State University — and caffeine’s diuretic effect (meaning it increases urination) creates a situation where they’re “washed” out of the body before being fully absorbed, Dr. Avena says. In addition to these water-soluble vitamins, caffeine can also interfere with the absorption of calcium and iron — two minerals that are also common deficiencies.
“Many people are deficient in one or more micronutrients, and cutting out caffeine can help reverse that,” she notes.
Potentially Better Bone Health
Related to vitamin deficiencies, caffeine’s effect on bone health has been a subject for debate. On the “skip the java” side is previous research in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which found that higher caffeine levels interfered with vitamin D absorption, reducing the way the vitamin responded in osteoblasts, the cells responsible for building bone.
That mechanism, and the strong link between vitamin D and calcium, may be why another study, which was published August 2017 in Archives of Medical Science, found that regular, high caffeine consumption is associated with reduced bone mineral density and increased urinary calcium loss.
On the other side of the debate, it’s suggested that these effects are minimal in those who get the recommended amount of calcium daily, and that these effects can be offset by adding a small amount of milk to a cup of coffee or tea.