Have a Sweet Tooth? It May Be Because You’re a Coffee Drinker


By Joy Stephenson-Laws JD, Founder

Many people like to start the day with a hot cup of coffee. And coffee has been reported to have many health benefits including combating inflammation and helping with fat burn potentially (especially prior to a workout).

But if you are a coffee drinker and find yourself craving sweets, there may be a connection here.

Researchers at Cornell University found supporting evidence that caffeine may temporarily temper taste buds and make food and drink seem less sweet. And according to the study, when humans have a decreased ability to taste sweets, it makes them crave sweets even more.

The study, published in the Journal of Food Science, included 107 participants who were divided into two groups:

Group 1: sampled decaffeinated coffee with 200 milligrams of caffeine added (making it your average, strong cup of coffee).

Group 2: sampled regular, decaffeinated coffee.

Both groups had the same amount of sugar added to their coffee, but the participants who drank the caffeinated coffee rated their drink as less sweet.

This may have to do with adenosine receptors, which play a role in enhancing sweet signals within our taste buds.

The study says, “[a]s we commonly consume caffeine, a powerful antagonist for such receptors, in our daily lives, an intriguing question we sought to answer was whether the caffeine we habitually consume in coffee can inhibit the perception of sweet taste in humans.”

I am not suggesting everyone stop drinking coffee. But if you regularly consume caffeine and find that your sweet tooth is uncontrollable, try eliminating caffeine for a couple of weeks and see if that makes any difference.

You can even try switching to green tea, which contains significantly less caffeine and has multiple health benefits, including aiding with weight loss.

And, of course, besides controlling our sweet tooth we have to be mindful about what we eat. And if we make sure we get adequate amounts of certain nutrients, this may help us in maintaining a healthy weight.

For example, the following minerals may help with weight control.

  • Magnesium. Studies with rats have shown us that a low magnesium level can slow down growth of lean body mass (muscle and bone building) and promote an increase in body fat. Foods containing magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas.
  • Phosphorus. In a study of almost 40,000 women in Korea, phosphorus deficiency correlated with weight gain from oral contraceptives. Even more exciting is a study from Lebanon showing that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores. Dietary sources of phosphorus include salmon, halibut, yogurt, milk, turkey, chicken, beef, lentils, almonds, peanuts, eggs and bread.
  • Iron. There’s a lot of research on the link between obesity and iron deficiency. Basically, excess weight seems related to iron deficiency. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a study involving obese and non-obese women who ate a meal “rigged” to test their iron absorption. In overweight and obese women, iron absorption was two-thirds than in normal-weight women. Iron-rich foods include red meat, pork, poultry, seafoods, beans, spinach (and other leafy greens), peas, cherimoyas and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Zinc. A compelling amount of evidence suggests that zinc helps to block the bad effects of obesity in the body. This may be due to zinc’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Eat lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass fed beef, mushrooms, chickpeas, spinach and chicken to get more zinc in your daily diet.

What has been your experience with caffeine and sweets? Please share. The more we can learn from one another, the more we can be proactive together on this journey for optimal health.

And always keep in mind, healthy food is medicine.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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