If you’re like many people, you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning to help get your day started off right.
Your regular caffeinated coffee is known for many things, including its diuretic properties.
But, if you need a diuretic and you’re looking to cut your caffeine consumption, you’re probably wondering, is decaf coffee a diuretic?
The short answer, generally speaking, is no, decaffeinated coffee is not a diuretic. The caffeine in regular coffee is what causes the diuretic effect of regular coffee, so decaf coffee is not an appropriate substitute if the diuretic effects are what you’re looking for in a cup of joe.
That was the short version, to understand it better, we need to look at a few things in more detail.
Let’s jump straight in.
What are diuretics?
As we get older, and all that good living starts to take its toll on our bodies, we become prone to symptoms like high blood pressure and heart ailments. One of the main causes is the amount of sodium, or salt, in the body.
If your sodium level is too high, blood vessels start to constrict, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood around your system, which leads to increased blood pressure.
Drinking a lot of water every day can help to flush out the sodium through our kidneys, but sometimes we need to speed up the process, and so turn to a diuretic.
Diuretics are basically any substance that increases the flow of urine through the kidneys, helping to wash away the high levels of sodium that are causing us health problems.
A doctor can prescribe diuretic tablets, but tea and coffee, and similar drinks can also have a diuretic effect.
Is decaf coffee a diuretic?
The common perception among non-decaf drinkers is that decaffeinated coffee is a watered-down version of coffee, like non-alcoholic beer, and not “real” coffee, sometimes jokingly described as “brown hot water”.
Actually, it’s just coffee without the caffeine (you can probably guess that from the name), but still has most other properties of the original coffee bean. It has all the flavor-bearing oils, the anti-oxidants, and the characteristics of the roasting process.
In fact, in blind taste testing, many regular coffee drinkers can’t tell the difference, although experts say it has a slightly heightened bitterness compared to non-decaf coffee.
What is missing is the diuretic effect, which is caused by the caffeine in regular coffee. So if a decaf coffee drinker needs a diuretic, they have to just “keep taking the tablets”.
Is decaf coffee bad for you?
Cynics often say that if you give up all the things you enjoy, like alcohol, sugar, salt, red meat, and coffee, you may not actually live a lot longer but it will sure seem like it!
Having said that, when you talk to your doctor about heart problems, cholesterol, blood pressure, or similar issues, the doc will generally advise you to give up things that have a lot of caffeine, because too much caffeine can increase blood pressure and cause heart palpitations.
The good news is that a switch to decaf will actually lower your blood pressure, although by a small amount.
Decaf also has all the health benefits of regular coffee, providing vitamins and nutrients like potassium and magnesium, without the possible harmful effects of caffeine.
One of the surprising benefits of drinking coffee, decaf as well as regular, is that it can have a protective effect on the brain’s neurons, which in layman’s terms means it keeps brain cells healthy, reducing the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
So if you have to give up caffeine, change to decaf – you will stay healthy, and smart!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does decaf coffee count as fluid intake?
It is a long-established myth that we need at least eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
Our daily fluid intake covers virtually any non-alcoholic beverage including tea and coffee.
Those two drinks have a diuretic effect as well, but not enough to alter the balance between drinking liquid and losing liquids through the kidneys.
In fact, decaf coffee is even better because it provides hydration without any diuretic effect. Of course, water is still the best for daily fluid intake but decaf certainly helps.
Is decaffeinated coffee a laxative?
The well-known laxative effect of coffee is not actually due to caffeine.
It is the acidity, from the chlorogenic acid present in both regular and decaf coffee that acts on the gastric acids in the stomach, helping to stimulate the colon to eliminate waste from the body.
So decaf coffee does act as a laxative, but studies have shown that the effect diminishes over time, as the body gets used to it and builds up more tolerance to the acidity levels.
Is decaf coffee bad for your kidneys?
No, in terms of either a normal kidney or for people with kidney problems, decaf has no effect whatsoever.
In fact, there is no evidence that drinking decaf coffee has any negative effect on a person’s health, and even shares some of the positive aspects of regular coffee.
Final thoughts on decaf coffee
So, in summary, we now know that decaf has all the benefits of regular coffee, including most of the flavor, and none of the negatives.
Of course, without the caffeine hit it won’t keep you awake on that long road trip, or during that all-night study session, but it will help to keep your body and brain healthy, and without the diuretic effect.
Maybe that’s enough incentive to try a cup when all you want is coffee for no reason other than the taste.