Is coffee good for you?
Think that first cup of coffee in the morning is what gives you your get up and go? Think again. New UK research has shown coffee has no actual affect on alertness, suggesting instead that it’s all in the mind.
By Amanda Pitcher
The Bristol University study involved 379 people who were not allowed to drink coffee or consume caffeine for a 16-hour period, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. They were then either given coffee or a placebo and then evaluated through a series of tests on their mental alertness.
The researchers found people who were daily consumers of coffee develop a tolerance to caffeine and its side effects, including anxiety and stimulatory effects. They suggested that rather than coffee making regular drinkers feels more alert and awake first thing in the morning, it was instead reversing the effects of overnight caffeine-withdrawal.
Half of the study’s participants did not drink coffee or caffeinated beverages frequently, and the other half were described as medium to high users, the Daily Mail reported.
After fasting and then being delivered coffee or the placebo, participants were asked to rate their mental alertness, anxiety and any headaches.
Those who were medium or high consumers of coffee when given the placebo were found to have decreased in mental alertness and an increase in the chance of having a headache. Those who received caffeine did not report a change either way — suggesting instead that the coffee had only brought them back to “normal”.
“Our study shows that we don’t gain an advantage from consuming caffeine — although we feel alerted by it, this is caffeine just bringing us back to normal,” lead researcher Professor Peter Rogers said.
“On the other hand, while caffeine can increase anxiety, tolerance means that for most caffeine consumers this effect is negligible.”
The research will be published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal Australians drink an average of 2.4kg of coffee a year, which is rising every year. We are still a long way behind Finland, however, who consume an astounding 11.2kg of coffee per year each.
A BIS Schrapnel report Coffee in Australia 2006-2008 found there were around 1.26 billion cups of coffee sold each year in the food service industry, which amounts to around $3 billion.