The Empty Promises in Your Coffee Cup

Julie Ryan Evans

Flickr photo by Refracted Moments
Do you need your coffee to wake up and stay alert during the day? Yeah, me too, but two recent studies say the benefits we assume are in our coffee cup may be only in our heads.

British researchers found that caffeine's powers to pep people up may be just an illusion.

In a study, people were given either a placebo or a caffeine pill after abstaining from caffeine for 16 hours. Results found both groups showed similar levels of alertness.

Medium to high consumers of coffee did report more headaches and a bit of decreased alertness when given the placebo, but when given caffeine, their levels of alertness were no higher than non/low consumers who got a placebo. It basically just brought them back to "normal" levels.

"Heavy coffee drinkers may feel they are made alert by coffee, but the evidence suggests that this is just the reversal of the effects of acute caffeine withdrawal, which cause fatigue," according to WebMD.

As I sit here chugging coffee, I'm looking with more than a little contempt at my coffee cup sitting there with all its false promises. Though not with enough that I have any thoughts of giving it up. I don't really care if it's all in my head, it works.

If you, however, are considering giving up coffee, you brave soul, then you may want to just head outside. Another recent study found that spending 20 minutes outdoors can give you the same boost coffee can (or was thought to before the above mentioned study?).

"Nature is fuel for the soul," said Researcher Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester. "Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but this suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature."

I'm thinking it's time to head outside to my porch ... for another cup of coffee.

Will either of these studies change your caffeine consumption?


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