Caffeine myths busted

This morning I chose a glass of water rather than a cup of coffee because I had heard that water is actually a better morning wake-up. Then I wondered: Is this true, or just a myth? With my curiosity peaking, I decided to do a little research, which has induced salivation and an urge to stop at my nearest café. According to The New York Times, Indiana University School of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, The Institute of Medicine, and others, it is indeed a myth that water improves cognitive performance. It is also a myth that you need to drink eight glasses a day. While it is important that you stay appropriately hydrated, there are many ways of getting a sufficient intake of water. The assumption that a caffeinated beverage dehydrates you is also false. According to a New York Times article on coffeeâÄôs contradictions and a study published in March by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been new findings about the actual health benefits of coffee. The study stated that you can in fact count caffeinated beverages in your daily water intake. It also stated that caffeine only becomes a diuretic, increasing urine output, when consumed in amounts above 575 milligrams, or about 3.8 Grande Lattes (150mg of caffeine each). Therefore, a typical Starbucks Grande Latte will have little difference in urine production and will hydrate as well as 16 ounces of water. John Hopkins University School of Medicine reported that some of the health benefits of coffee include an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability. The New York Times reports that the effect of 330 milligrams of caffeine in 16 ounces of ordinary brewed coffee enhance mood and mental and physical performance. However, in levels higher than 575 milligrams, caffeine can cause anxiety and an upset stomach. The New York Times also reports that caffeine improves memory and the ability to perform complex tasks; it helps reduce pain and aids in burning fat over carbohydrates. The Times also reported that coffee drinking reduces the risk of ParkinsonâÄôs disease and Type II Diabetes. It is important that you do not intake too much caffeine, but in moderation it is good for you. Dr. Margaret E. Parsons from The American Academy of Dermatology says eight glasses of water a day will not improve your skin, but does claim that âÄústaying appropriately hydrated is good for our general health.âÄù Our bodies are 60 percent water. If you are dehydrated, you may have dry-mouth or feel tired and irritated. Hydration in your diet comes from anything with water content, such as soup, milk, steak, tea and coffee. Lack of sleep can also cause irritation as well as decreased alertness and mental functioning. Caffeine may be a fine substitute, but exercise, hydration and a healthy diet are important for mood stability. According to Dr. Henry Emmons at the UniversityâÄôs Center for Spirituality and Healing, Exercise is proven to be almost as effective for mood enhancement as medication. Other natural mood enhancers include exercise, yoga, meditation; lavender, mint and other aromatherapy oils; vitamin B; 16 ounces of coffee or tea; dark chocolate (it is high in antioxidants, which also boost mood); Omega-3 fatty acids; art, music and reading; laughter; going outdoors; healthy dieting. DonâÄôt sleep through your winter woes. Get active, drink a steaming cup of coffee, chuckle with a friend and breathe. Holiday break is prancing near. Ashley Goetz accepts comments at [email protected]