Coffee myth busted: morning cups offer no boost in mental alertness

Monday, March 26, 2007 by: Christian Evans
Tags: coffee, caffeine, coffee consumption

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New research presented to the British Nutrition Foundation shows that regular consumption of coffee does not affect a personís alertness. University of Bristol researchers have carried out a review of previous studies into the effects of caffeine, and concluded that only those who have avoided coffee for a significant time get a buzz from caffeine.

Jump directly to: conventional view | alternative view | bottom line

What you need to know - Conventional View

• Most people who rely on their morning caffeine fix claim that it wakes them up and helps get them through the day.

• The research shows that those who drink a caffeinated beverage are no more alert than those who never consume one.

• The Bristol researchers believe that coffee only counteracts the mild caffeine withdrawal symptoms people experience after having gone without the stimulant overnight.

• Professor Peter Rogers, a biological psychologist who led the research, told the BBC: "That alertness you feel is you getting back to normal, rather than to an above normal level. The morning boost is what people think is useful about caffeine, but if that doesn't happen, maybe it's not that useful after all."

• Caffeine does have some benefits, such as preventing cognitive decline in the elderly.

• Zoe Wheeldon, of the British Coffee Association, disagrees with the research and states: "There are two sides to the debate and a wealth of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption of four to five cups per day is perfectly safe for the general population and does have a beneficial effect on alertness and performance even in regular coffee drinkers."

What you need to know - Alternative View

Statements and opinions by Mike Adams, executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center

• Of course the British Coffee Association is going to claim that drinking many cups of coffee every day is both safe and beneficial. The group has a financial incentive to say such things.

• Long-term coffee consumption depleted the adrenal glands and leads to chronic depletion of energy. Caffeine is the No. 1 most abused psychoactive drug in modern civilization. It is highly addictive and has detrimental health consequences when consumed over a period of many years.

• Long-term caffeine consumption has been correlated with a loss of bone mineral density as well as hypoglycemia.

Bottom line

Coffee does not affect alertness, according to a new study from the University of Bristol.

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