Is Decaf Coffee A Diuretic Or Is This A Myth?
We will once and for all find the answer to the question – is decaf coffee a diuretic or not?
People have always wondered if coffee is a diuretic. The feeling of needing the bathroom after a coffee is very real for a lot of us.
But is decaf coffee a diuretic?
Let’s find out.
First, we will explain what a diuretic is and move on to whether decaf coffee will make you look for the nearest rest room.
First Of All – What Is A Diuretic?
A diuretic is any substance that causes an increase in the production of urine, also known as diuresis.
This can cause a loss of water and salt (sodium) from the bloodstream. Medically, this can result in a lowering of the blood pressure.
For most of us, just an annoying trip to the toilet.
If this is the case, is decaf coffee a diuretic?
What Is Decaffeinated Coffee?
Decaffeinated coffee, or decaf for short, is any coffee made using coffee beans or coffee grounds from beans that have gone through a decaffeination process.
Buyers can expect this to be clearly stated in the retail packaging.
Coffee enthusiasts are not keen on decaf coffee (death before decaf!). They feel and/or believe that any decaffeination process ultimately harms the flavor of the coffee.
With that said, specialty decaf coffee is growing in popularity.
The best way to decide is to just give it a try!
But a lot of people ask, is decaf coffee a diuretic? There is a lot of talk about it.
What’s the Difference Between Decaffeinated Coffee And Regular Coffee?
Essentially, there is little difference besides the lowering of the quantity of caffeine.
If premium coffee beans are used and the decaffeination process is supervised and measured with quality in mind, all is good.
Does Decaf Still Have Caffeine?
It should be pointed out here that decaf coffee does not mean zero caffeine.
All decaffeinated coffee contains some quantity of caffeine, just at levels much lower than regular coffee.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that any coffee beans from which 97% of the caffeine has been removed can be labeled as decaf.
This means that if a standard cup of coffee contains approximately 160 to 240mg of caffeine, a standard cup of decaf coffee can be expected to contain approximately 3 to 6mg of caffeine.
That is a big difference. Is decaf coffee a diuretic under these circumstances?
Does Decaffeinated Coffee Have Fewer Antioxidants?
It is almost impossible to expect that any process designed to separate one chemical substance from a large variety of other chemical substances will be 100% selective. Especially on an industrial or commercially viable level.
Tests performed in Italy show that there is a 25% decrease in the number of antioxidants between decaf and regular coffee. That being said, a 25% decrease is very small.
Chances are good that the level of antioxidant loss in specialty decaf coffee is even less.
Does Decaffeinated Coffee Have More Acids?
The simple answer is that the decaffeination process will have a similar effect on the number of organic acids in coffee beans as it does on the antioxidants. However, this effect is far smaller than that of the roasting process that all coffee beans go through, whether decaf or not.
If you are thinking about the acidic taste, that has more to do with the quality of the coffee you are preparing and how fresh it is.
If you do end up with a brew that is not quite to your liking and you feel it needs a boost to enhance the flavor, there are several ways to do this. Click here for some tips.
How Is The Caffeine Removed From Decaf Coffee?
In 1820, the German analytical chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was the first to separate the chemical substance of caffeine from coffee beans. However, he did not develop this into a commercial process.
That was left to the German merchant Ludwig Roselius. He discovered that a shipment of his coffee beans, accidentally, soaked in seawater lost much of their caffeine, but not much of its flavor.
Ludwig and his co-workers patented a decaffeination process in 1906.
Today there are three main commercially viable processes used to decaffeinate coffee beans.
- An expensive one.
- A cheaper, but controversial one.
- And one slightly more expensive, but considered safe and risk-free.
The Carbon Dioxide Method (expensive)
Green (unroasted) coffee beans are soaked in supercritical carbon dioxide.
This is created by raising the pressure and temperature of carbon dioxide causing the caffeine to exit the beans. The supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) and beans are then separated.
The CO2 is either pumped through a filter of activated charcoal, separating the caffeine from the CO2. Or else it is pumped into an absorption chamber where the CO2 is converted back into a gas.
This leaves the caffeine as a powder on the bottom. Unfortunately, since this process is expensive, it is mostly used to decaffeinated very large batches of coffee into low-grade decaf coffee.
The Solvent Method (controversial)
This method is controversial as it employs the use of one of two industrial chemicals.
- Ethyl Acetate
- Methylene Chloride
Green, unroasted, coffee beans are steamed to open their pores and then mixed with one of the two above chemicals. The caffeine bonds readily with either of the two chemicals.
The beans are then steamed again to separate them from the solvent and caffeine and dried, ready for roasting.
The Swiss Water Process (slightly expensive, but considered safe)
Patented by the Swiss company Coffex, the Swiss Water Process is wholly organic and only makes use of water, typically high-quality natural spring water.
A batch of green, unroasted, coffee beans are soaked in warm, pressurized water. This causes their sugars, caffeine, oils, organic acids, etc. to migrate into the water.
The beans are separated from the now green coffee extract solution and discarded. This green coffee extract solution is then forced through a filter of activated charcoal to separate out 99.9% of the caffeine and very little else.
Another batch of green coffee beans is then soaked in this green coffee extract solution. Since the extract solution has very little caffeine in it, only the caffeine from the next batch of beans migrates out.
The 99.9% caffeine-free beans are then separated from the solution and dried ready for roasting.
The green coffee extract solution is continuously re-used with successive batches of beans until a new batch is needed.
Does Decaffeinated Still Taste Like Regular Coffee?
If we’re being honest decaf coffee has a bad reputation, especially amongst regular and enthusiast coffee drinkers. But does decaf coffee deserve its bad reputation?
A large number of informal and unofficial taste tests have shown that many coffee lovers find it difficult to distinguish between regular coffee and decaf.
The only difference between decaf and regular coffee beans is the caffeine content. The flavor remains unchanged.
The fact of the matter is that the decaffeination process adds an overhead to the price of coffee.
Premium coffee is already expensive. In real-world terms, the vast majority of decaffeination is done on coffee beans of lower quality destined for lower-grade coffee brands.
At the end of the day coffee lovers most probably would not be able to tell the difference between a specialty coffee and a specialty decaf coffee in terms of flavor.
Decaf can also be used to make cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, steeped coffee, and all the other coffee drinks you can think of, with hardly any change in their flavor.
So How Much Caffeine Is In A Cup Of Decaf Coffee?
The levels of caffeine will vary depending on:
- the variety of coffee beans
- the process of decaffeination used
- the roasting process
- the individual coffee brand
- the brewing process and many more factors
It is for this reason that no two cups of decaf coffee will have the same amount of caffeine.
A standard 237ml cup of brewed decaf coffee can be expected to contain between 2 to 6mg of caffeine.
How Many Cups of Decaffeinated Coffee Can I Safely Drink A Day?
The recommended daily limit for a healthy adult is up to 400mg of caffeine. However, some people are more sensitive to caffeine, while others have developed a tolerance towards caffeine.
In purely mathematical terms this would equate to sixty-six cups of decaf coffee a day if we assume a quantity of 6mg of caffeine per standard cup. However, caffeine has an effect on the human body over and above that feeling of energy.
A study performed in Australia on a group of 347 077 people, tested the link between coffee consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease. They found that consuming 6 or more cups of coffee a day increased the risk of one developing cardiovascular disease.
So drinking more than 6 cups of coffee a day, whether regular or decaf, is most probably not in your best interest.
Pregnant women; women trying to become pregnant; and women who are nursing should limit themselves to no more than 200mg of caffeine per day. This equates to about 4 cups of regular coffee.
In the case of decaf coffee, it is probably best to limit yourselves to no more than 6 cups per day.
The Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee
4 health facts about decaf coffee you will find interesting.
- Reduced Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
The cumulative data from 18 studies involving a total of 457922 people indicates that there may be a 7% reduced risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes for every cup of coffee consumed per day.
However, the data does NOT point to a definitive link, suggesting that further studies need to be conducted. According to “webmd.com”, people suffering from Diabetes should consume caffeine with caution.
- Helps To Inhibit The Development Of Liver Cirrhosis
Studies point to the fact that something in coffee helps to inhibit or slow down the development of liver cirrhosis. Especially alcoholic induced liver cirrhosis.
- Reduces Risk Of Ageing and Neurodegenerative Diseases
Dementia is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.
Studies point to the fact that caffeine provides a protective function against the development of such diseases. However, no definitive link has been established.
- Less Risk Of Liver And Colorectal Cancer
Liver cancer ranks as the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Colorectal cancer ranks fourth according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report.
Studies have indicated, but not definitively established, that caffeine may help reduce the development of both these forms of cancer. Calls for more in-depth studies have been made.
Can I Drink Decaffeinated Coffee If I Am Intolerant Or Allergic To Caffeine?
Caffeine intolerance and caffeine allergy are two very different things. A caffeine allergy can be more serious.
What Is A Caffeine Allergy?
If a doctor has confirmed an allergy towards caffeine all caffeine-containing foods and drinks should be avoided as per your doctor’s advice.
However, caffeine allergy is a rare condition that is triggered in the same way as other food allergies. The body mistakes caffeine for an invader and develops an autoimmune response.
What Is Caffeine Intolerance?
Caffeine intolerance is when your body can only metabolize caffeine slowly. For this reason, the effects of caffeine will last longer.
People who are caffeine intolerant should consume coffee and other products containing caffeine with caution.
Can Too Much Coffee Cause Dehydration?
It is true that drinking products containing caffeine can elevate the need to urinate. The pure fact is that you are ingesting fluid that will eventually need to be eliminated.
However, drinking these products does not cause the body to lose more liquid than that which was ingested.
Plain water will always be the better choice. However, products such as coffee and tea actually contribute to your body’s daily water requirements.
Is Decaf Coffee A Diuretic – Does Decaffeinated Coffee Make You Urinate More Often?
Caffeine is a mild diuretic. No one will argue with that.
Decaf coffee has had a large portion of its caffeine removed, and for most people, it takes upwards of 360mg of caffeine before it acts as a diuretic. That is an awful lot of decaf coffee to drink!
So is decaf a diuretic?
The answer is – no.
Does decaf coffee make you pee?
No, decaf will not make you urinate more.
Switching To Decaffeinated Coffee – The Side Effects And Advantages
Is decaf coffee a diuretic like regular coffee?
Decaf Side Effects
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms – caffeine is a psychoactive substance and a stimulant. If you have been a heavy coffee drinker and suddenly switch to decaf coffee, chances are good that you will suffer from some or all of the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Headaches – caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the head. So when caffeine is absent, those blood vessels open up, increasing blood flow to the brain. This can cause headaches, which should subside within a few days.
- Fatigue/Drowsiness – caffeine is a stimulant. It helps block your body’s uptake of adenosine (the organic compound which signals the brain to prepare the body for sleep). A sudden lack of caffeine can lead to a bout of drowsiness or fatigue.
- Anxiety – too much caffeine can lead to bouts of anxiety. But a sudden drop in caffeine levels can also lead to bouts of anxiety.
- Lack Of Concentration – caffeine increases the levels of adrenaline. This boosts the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which stimulate the brain and increase focus. A sudden drop in caffeine will have the opposite effect.
- Depressed Mood – caffeine acts as a stimulant, heightening levels of energy and well-being. A sudden drop in caffeine levels will have the opposite effect. Those already suffering from depression should be closely monitored.
- Irritability – this is usually one of the first symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. The fact that many coffee drinkers have a cup in the morning to counteract this is a testament to this.
- Tremors – not as common as the other symptoms. Usually only associated with those who have been very heavy consumers of caffeine. This symptom should subside within two to nine days. Consult a doctor if this symptom persists for longer.
- Low Energy – caffeine is a stimulant. A sudden drop in caffeine levels will have the opposite effect.
May Cause Acid Reflux Or Heartburn
Some people complain that drinking coffee exacerbates their problems with heartburn or acid reflux. Both regular and decaf coffees contain organic acids.
These will add to the gastric acids during digestion. These may become problematic for people who are already susceptible to acid reflux or suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Additionally, caffeine does relax the lower oesophageal muscles.
May Slow Iron Absorption
Coffee has been found to slow the body’s absorption of iron. This is not an issue for the majority of healthy adults who get enough iron from their diets.
Actually, caffeine may be less guilty here than the polyphenols found in coffee. Polyphenols, also found in tea, have a bigger inhibitory effect than caffeine.
For groups at risk such as women of:
- childbearing age
- people with a poor or restrictive diet
- people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease
it may be advisable to drink your coffee an hour before or an hour after having your main meals.
May Aggravate Rheumatoid Arthritis
A study conducted in Finland has pointed to the fact that 4 or more cups of coffee a day may promote the development of Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, the study was not able to make a definitive link.
Also, the study did not make a distinction between regular and decaf coffee.
Effects Of Decaf Coffee
Switching to decaf coffee should help promote better sleep since caffeine is a known stimulant. However, one should not discount other factors in their life that may be interfering with healthy sleep.
Helps Maintain a Healthy Memory
This has more to do with the vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols found in both regular and decaf coffee than anything else.
Helps Burn Calories
One of the compounds found in coffee is resveratrol. Some studies have shown that it can aid in weight loss for people who are obese.
More research is needed, but resveratrol appears to have a link to fat metabolism.
Helps Reduce Inflammatory Arthritis
Coffee contains the powerful antioxidant phenol chlorogenic acid. This has been linked to a reduction in the risk of developing gout or inflammatory arthritis.
Gout can be the result of elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Pheno chlorogenic acid seems to aid the body in excreting uric acid.
A joint US/Canada study indicated that drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of gout in men aged 40 years and older. It is not known whether the same is true for women.
So.. Is Decaf Coffee A Diuretic?
Does decaf coffee act as a diuretic that makes you look for the ladies’ room after a cuppa?
The answer is NO.
A cup of decaffeinated coffee will not promote the need to urinate any more than a glass of water will.