As a caffeinated-crazed coffee lover, I have heard time and time again that if I keep drinking coffee it will stunt my growth. At age 19, standing at 5 feet 4 inches, I’m pretty sure that if coffee did in fact stunt my growth, I did not suffer from these effects. As you know, I have been drinking coffee before hitting double digits (on special occasions of course). I remember in high school I had a friend who was not allowed to drink coffee because her parents thought it would stunt her growth. Whenever she came to my house, or when we went to Dunkin’ Donuts before the football games, she would secretly order a coffee despite her parents’ warnings. Ironically, this friend is 5’9. I don’t think coffee negatively impacted her growth. So what’s the deal, does coffee really stunt your growth?!
It didn’t take much research to uncover the answer to this infamous dispute.
Myth: Coffee will stunt your growth.
Where the old wives’ tale began, no one has quite discovered that, but I can assure you that drinking coffee will not stunt your growth. I found a post on The Roasterie, that fully debunks this myth. The author of this post provides an explanation for the origin of this common myth. Perhaps the idea that coffee stunts one’s growth stemmed from the idea that “caffeine may reduce bone mass” although, “the study that developed this research was flawed from the get-go as the participants were elderly people whose diets significantly lacked calcium,” hence their reduction in bone mass. Not to mention, coffee is not the only caffeinated beverage, think of soda and energy drinks; yet, these caffeine filled drinks have no effects on one’s growth at all.
While this is not the only myth circulating about my beloved drink (yes, I am a tad defensive whenever someone talks negatively about coffee), there are other rumors that give coffee a bad name as well.
Myth: Drinking coffee makes it hard to sleep, or causes insomnia.
I can debunk this myth solely based on experience; I have never had trouble falling asleep because of coffee. Heck, I drink on average 3 cups a day (all caffeinated of course), and sometimes I finish that final cup just moments before hitting the pillow. While that is the case for me, caffeine’s effect on a person’s ability to fall asleep varies on the individual. I know my mom and roommate both cannot have a cup of coffee at least 4 hours before going to bed. This phenomenon is explained in Amy Anderson’s article Myths and facts about coffee: (hint: it doesn’t cause cancer, it’s not addictive, nor fat-free…). Anderson claims that the reason that coffee negatively affects the way some people sleep is because they “appear to metabolize caffeine particularly slowly” in comparison to those who are able to fall asleep regardless of the time they had their last cup of coffee.
7 Myths About Drinking Coffee, a post on the nutrition blog Fitnea, provides another, very similar explanation to debunk the myth “that caffeine causes insomnia.” According to the post, the human body instantly absorbs the caffeine and quickly disposes it. Within 4 to 5 hours after the consumption of caffeine, the liver processes this stimulant before half of it is almost completely flushed out of the body. Depending on how fast an individual’s body processes caffeine, may affect their sleeping patterns if coffee is consumed later in the day.
Naturally, it is important to keep in mind that coffee must be consumed in moderation! If you notice that your excessive consumption of coffee is prohibiting you from a sound sleep, than perhaps it would be best to avoid drinking coffee late in the afternoon or early in the evening.
For further reading on more myths than mentioned above, check out the rest of Fitnea’s post and Amy Anderson’s full article on some of the most infamous myths about one of America’s beloved beverages – coffee.