If you find yourself drinking more than a cup of coffee a day, chances are you’re addicted to its stimulating effects, not its taste

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo by Tim St. Martin/Unsplash 

Everybody knows that drinking coffee can be addictive, but have you ever wondered about the science behind the drink’s addictive properties? According to a recent study published in Human Molecular Genetics, you’re addicted to coffee not because of its taste but because of the way it makes you feel.

The researchers found a link between genetics and beverages’ psychoactive properties—that is, they found that genetics can affect the way you feel when you drink a certain beverage. Genetic factors control a person’s response towards caffeine or alcohol and that sense, they lead people to drink beer or coffee as a treat or reward rather than for taste alone. 

For instance, if you were born with a fast metabolism, you’re more likely to drink more coffee (in order to keep its stimulating effects). The same goes with several other bittersweet beverages such as beer. If drinking beer makes you feel more calm and serves as a stress reliever, chances are you’re going to order another bottle.

The study also reported that even If you don’t like the taste of bitter beverages, as long as they have stimulating effects on you, there’s still a possibility that you’ll get addicted to them

The researchers examined over 330,000 people in the UK to see if there were any links between the participants’ genetic makeup and their addiction to certain bitter and sweet beverages. For the bitter-tasting beverages, the researchers used beer, coffee, tea, grapefruit juice, liquor, and red wine as samples; as for the sweet drinks, non-grapefruit juices, sugar-sweetened beverages, and artificially sweetened beverages were used.

But as satisfying as it is to drink as much coffee or beer, it’s important to remember to drink in moderation. How much is too much? According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended amount of alcohol you can consume daily is not more than one glass or a 12-ounce bottle. When it comes to caffeine, you can drinks as much as 400 mg a day or five cups depending on the sweetness. 

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