It’s fair to say that coffee and politics and religion can divide dinner tables for real. Some people say it’s good for you (antioxidants, y’all), while others think it’s the devil in a frothy warm mug (or a glass with ice and a straw. We don’t discriminate). So who ya gonna believe?
Most people can agree that an excess of caffeine is never good for you, and if you do a bit of research on the subject, you’ll find a lot of sources recommending that you switch to decaf coffee so you can enjoy the drink without the side effects. But is that necessarily the answer?
The decaffeination process usually involves using solvents that strip the coffee of the caffeine but leave in as many of the other elements and chemicals of coffee that give it that beautiful, wholesome, comforting, couldn’t-live-without-it aroma and taste. (Just in case you couldn’t tell, I like coffee).
But before you plunge head-first into a lifeless caffeinated, here are six unexpected side effects of decaf coffee that you really oughta know about:
Interferes with nutrient absorption
This one isn’t unique to decaf, as studies have shown that decaf’s more energetic, caffeine-brimming big brother is guilty of this also. But coffee decreases the body’s ability to absorb iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium from food sources, which is far from ideal if you’re deficient in any of these nutrients.
Adverse cardiovascular effects
Not to alarm anyone here, but studies have shown that decaf coffee increases levels of LDL cholesterol, which is responsible for increasing your risk of heart disease, heart failure, and heart attacks.
Drinking decaf coffee increases metabolic acidity and is rumored to interfere with healthy bone density. Excess acidity has been linked to negative calcium balance and increased calcium excretion. As you probably already know; calcium is essential for preventing osteoporosis and maintaining adequate bone density.
Increased acidity in the body
Science tells us that coffee is highly acidic and stimulates the excessive secretion of gastric acids. Decaf coffee is especially guilty of this, and over-consumption can quickly lead to ulcers, acid reflux, inflammatory bowel conditions, heartburn, and urinary tract infections.
Stimulates the sympathetic nervous system
So y’know how coffee makes a lot of people jittery as all hell? Turns out it might not just be an effect of the caffeine. Decaf coffee stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases shaking, overstimulation, and that seemingly inexplicable jumpiness.
Greater risk of rheumatoid arthritis
Now this one is exclusive to decaf coffee. Drinking non-caffeinated coffee instead of regular coffee puts you at a much greater risk of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease characterized by painful inflammation of the joints and internal organs. According to a study of more than 31,336 women aged 55-69, women who reported consuming four or more cups of decaffeinated coffee a day were more than twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared to women who never drank decaf. So if you’re looking for less coffee-ish coffee, why not try matcha, mushroom coffee, or throw caution to the wind with a blue algae latte if you’re feeling hipster adequately?