Caffeine is actually addicting

Coffee: coffee myths in check: can coffee really be addicting?

It wakes you up, stimulates - and steams on many breakfast tables in the morning: "Coffee is the most popular beverage in Germany," says Holger Preibisch, General Manager of the German Coffee Association. Every German drinks around 164 liters of coffee on average every year. This puts it at the top of the most popular drinks by far, ahead of mineral water and beer. But coffee has to fight prejudice. Therefore: facts about the favorite drink of the Germans.

What ingredients are in coffee?

Coffee beans that are ground into coffee powder contain various substances that can affect the body. The best-known ingredient is caffeine, which is one of the alkaloids. In addition, coffee also contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium, acids, proteins and water. When roasting the beans, flavorings are also created. "Caffeine in moderation stimulates the heart and the central nervous system and can have a pain-relieving effect," says Wolfgang Reuter, health expert at Deutsche Krankenversicherung (DKV).

"That is why it is a component of some medications, especially for migraines and headaches." Incidentally, espresso and filter coffee differ primarily in how they are roasted. It has an impact on the taste and the amount of acid contained. Espresso is roasted longer - this reduces the acidity.

Does coffee dehydrate the body?

One often hears that coffee removes fluids from the body. That is only partially true. Coffee does increase the activity of the kidneys, which leads to increased urine production over a short period of time. Overall, however, the loss of fluids after drinking coffee is no higher than after other beverages. "If you drink enough fluids throughout the day, such as water, spritzers or herbal teas, you won't lose any fluids from coffee," says health expert Reuter. "There is no need to drink a glass of water after a cup of coffee."

Does coffee make the body sour?

A balanced acid-base balance is important for the metabolism and thus for health. Too much acid can lead to tiredness and susceptibility to infections and even cause serious illnesses. It is often said that too much coffee makes the body acidic. But that's wrong: "Coffee has a more basic and non-acidic effect on the entire organism," says Reuter. However, coffee stimulates the production of stomach acid. "Depending on the amount of coffee, this can lead to irritation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract." Anyone who smokes and consumes alcohol increases this irritation to the stomach.

Can Coffee Be Addicting?

Coffee is not an addicting drug, says DKV expert Reuter. A habituation effect can occur: if you drink coffee regularly, your body gets used to the caffeine intake. “If the coffee drinker then has to or wants to do without caffeine, headaches, tiredness and irritability can occur.” This is not to be equated with withdrawal symptoms such as those that occur in alcoholics.

However, as with almost all luxury foods, coffee should be consumed in moderation and not overdone, especially since too much caffeine is bad for the cardiovascular system. Anyone who reacts to drinking coffee with nervousness, palpitations or sweating should reduce their consumption or stop. We recommend no more than two to four cups a day - this can vary from person to person.

You can find more helpful information here in our guide on nutrition.

Editor's note: This article is a contribution from our online archive.