General Health Wednesday February 3, 2016

Coffee vs. Water: Which Keeps You Awake?

Many people drink caffeinated beverages to stay alert, and the chances are high that you are one of them. However, others believe that water may do a better job of keeping our eyes open. So which will wake you up the best?

How do coffee and water affect the brain?

The molecule adenosine is created throughout the day, making us feel sleepy. When we go to sleep adenosine decreases, and we eventually wake up.

Coffee wakes us up because our brains cells mistake caffeine for this molecule. This blocks the adenosine and prevents tiredness, but in retaliation the body creates more adenosine. This leads to a higher caffeine intake and so on. It's a never-ending battle and makes giving up coffee very difficult.

Water affects your brain too. Brain tissue is 75% water and dehydration means the brain loses fluids. This leaves us feeling fatigued, unable to concentrate and drained of energy. Some studies have shown that drinking water makes us smarter and able to think quicker, particularly in people who feel thirsty.

How quickly do they work?

Coffee is a sure-fire wake up call. Many people drink caffeine in the morning to feel alert, it's a popular way to get brain cells and body on the go. The problem is we need a regular intake of caffeine to retain the 'feeling awake' benefits. Water will also wake us up as we become dehydrated overnight, but its slower acting, particularly if you are addicted to caffeine.

Which lasts longer?

Coffee gives a big hit of 'wake up!' but it doesn't last long. In order to stay alert, coffee levels need topping up regularly. More coffee leads to yet more still, as the sleepy adenosines fight to regain their place. Water lasts longer, but you still need to sip it regularly. It's thought however that drinking a large glass of cool water can improve the metabolism by 24% for 90 minutes. So try it if you're looking to lose weight.

Which hydrates best?

Hydration is massively important. Dehydration leads to constipation, tiredness, high blood pressure and weight gain amongst other problems.

Coffee is a fluid and it hydrates, but it's a diuretic too and produces pee more quickly than water. Water hydrates you with no problems. It's cheap, has no calories and doesn't rot or stain teeth.

Are there any side effects?

Drinking too much caffeine is bad for health. It causes insomnia, palpitations and hypertension. Pregnant ladies need to restrict caffeine intake to 200mgs a day = approx 2 mugs of coffee.

People can become addicted to coffee, waking up with a withdrawal headache and tiredness worse than a coffee avoider. It also raises adrenaline and stimulates mood levels which are not good long term. On the plus side there is some evidence that coffee may protect against bowel cancer by cutting inflammation.

Water has no side effects, as long as it's clean and safe.

Overall Winner – Water!

happy water

Although it doesn't feel like it, we can live without coffee, but we can't live without water.

Water has a whole host of health benefits outweighing coffee. If you're properly hydrated the previous day, waking up in the morning shouldn't be so much of a problem.

Top up your fluid levels with a glass of water when you get up for a long-term 'wake-up-fresh' feeling, but don't think you have to give up caffeine completely or forego your morning coffee, because it still has a place. A cup of coffee is pleasurable and it hydrates the body, but it's important to keep caffeine levels to a sensible minimum. To wake-up alert, ensure your daily intake of water is sufficient and have a coffee too if you want, just don't sacrifice all your water for a trio of Macchiatos.


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