The health benefits or negatives of caffeine are not certain. You’ll find articles referring to research showing contradictory results. The American Heart Association says that drinking one to two cups of caffeine drinks a day isn’t likely to be harmful. There’s a good source of facts on MedicineNet here.
One suggested reason for the conflicting results is that it genetic make-up seems to affect how we react to coffee. There’s a useful article in the New York Times here, referring to seminal research by Dr Ahmed El-Sohemy, professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, who discovered a combination of genes responsible for how quickly we process caffeine and how it affects us.
Some people are much more affected by caffeine than others. I have not had a genetic test but I do know that I seem unaffected by it. I can’t tell whether I’m drinking caffeinated of decaffeinated coffee. It doesn’t do anything for me or to me, or not that I can tell.
So, I now drink decaffeinated coffee where possible, simply because there is no reason for me not to, since I like the taste equally.
My dentist also told me to give up caffeine, because he says I grind my teeth in my sleep – don’t ask me how he knows! – and apparently drinking caffeine contributes to that. (Though if I have whatever genetic combination means I’m unaffected by caffeine this probably isn’t relevant.)
Recent research showing a health benefit to caffeine suggested that the same benefit comes from decaf coffee, so we really don’t know whether it’s the caffeine that brings whatever benefits (or negatives) there might be, anyway.
But for some people coffee has a profound affect – one which they notice particularly when they stop having their daily fix.
If that’s you, I suggest there’s a likely benefit to cutting down to that 1-2 cups a day and ideally in the morning only.
If, like me, you don’t notice an effect from caffeine, you still might benefit from reducing to that level.
And, if you can find a coffee you equally like in the decaf version, why not do it?
But remember, caffeine comes not only in coffee but also in most teas, cola and energy drinks, chocolate and some food supplements. You’ll see a useful list here, including some actual caffeine amounts (because that varies, too, for example between instant and freshly-brewed coffee.)
Note: decaffeinated coffee or tea is not caffeine-free! There is still caffeine in it, just less than in the original version. Maybe that’s why some of the suggested health benefits also come from decaf coffee…
I certainly think that reducing caffeine is a legitimate Way to Well-Being.