Coffee before exams? Say you have a big mid-term or final exam coming up. You should power down big doses of caffeine in coffee or an energy drink, right? Not according to what we’ve read online. There are few formal, scientific studies about what to drink before exams, but the anecdotal evidence seems to point to water as the best beverage beforehand.
It’s important to get enough water so you don’t become fatigued from dehydration. That said, you can get some water from drinking coffee or energy drinks. Those old stories about coffee being a diuretic are true, but only if you drink so much that you get excess amounts of caffeine. Coffee and other caffeine-containing products are healthy for you when taken in moderate amounts, as we have written several times on this blog before.
Is it true caffeine makes you smarter? Sort of, it seems, at least indirectly. Researchers have studied this question a lot, and two groups of researchers did meta-studies (studies of studies) to determine just exactly what, if any, the conclusions of the scientific literature are.
If the title sounds like we’re hedging our bets, we are.
Whether caffeine makes you smarter is one question. Whether it makes you feel good is another. Test subjects in studies report they’re in a better mood after taking caffeine, they’re more alert and less fatigued.
Recent news about caffeine, pregnancy and miscarriage is kind of confusing. A complex study from the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University linked couple’s consumption of more than two caffeinated beverages a day to a risk of miscarriage. Just to be safe, women trying to conceive and pregnant women should limit caffeine intake.
Balancing sleep, caffeine and alcohol can be like walking the high wire. The National Sleep Foundation calls caffeine and alcohol “sleep stealers.” But studies show they are beneficial in moderate amounts.
6:38 a.m. That hour comes all too early, especially if people were drinking the night before. It’s the time when the average American awakens after an average night of 7 hours and 36 minutes of sleep. And the first thing most people do in the morning is brew a pot of coffee.
A 2015 study of more than 1.2 million people found that folks who drink 3 to 5 cups of black coffee a day have fewer heart problems than those who drink none. People who drink 5 or more cups don’t have any more problems than anyone else.
Two other studies, meta-analyses that collated data from 11 other research articles, found that drinking 2 to 6 cups a day results in a lower risk of stroke disease. One of those meta-studies included data from more than 500,000 participants.
We have good news for lovers of America’s two favorite mood-altering substances, caffeine and marijuana: Caffeine may enhance a pot smoker’s high.
The downside is that caffeine can also increase the chance of becoming addicted to cannabis.
The writer, Dan Charles, bought a 4-ounce bag of caffeine and said it had as much caffeine as 1,000 tall Starbucks lattes. He said this caffeine was created in coffee beans on a hillside in the tropics. “Slowly and quietly, driven by the energy of sunlight, it formed inside coffee beans hanging on thousands of trees, most likely in Brazil or Vietnam,” Charles wrote.
“Those beans were harvested, loaded on ships bound for the port of Houston, Texas, and ended up at a factory within sight of downtown Houston: Atlantic Coffee Solutions. It’s owned by one of the world’s largest coffee traders, ECOM Agroindustrial Corp., which is based in Switzerland.”
We have good news and bad news for the 30 to 40 percent of you who promote the efficacious movement of the bowels every morning with a big cup or two of coffee. The good news is, coffee and tea help some people move their bowels. The bad news also is that joe can help you go.
How can that be bad? Because you rely on a chemical to make you regular. Some people report constipation if they don’t get their usual dose of coffee. There don’t seem to be any scientific studies on this effect that are indexed on Google, but there are several anecdotal Web pages where people state stopping coffee cold turkey causes constipation at least temporarily.
Coffee was so important in wartime America during World War II that the government rationed it briefly so soldiers could get enough. Coffee was one of four staples for Civil War soldiers, along with beans, beef and hardtack. After Boston Tea Partiers dumped that tea in the harbor during the Revolution, coffee drinkers were considered patriotic.
Coffee can give a soldier the alertness he needs in times of prolonged sleep loss or during dangerous combat situations.
Caffeine can boost athletic stamina and speed so much that the International Olympic Committee once limited how much of it Olympic athletes could take. Caffeine was categorized as a performance-enhancing substance.
The regular athlete might not be able to run a marathon in 2:02.57 like Dennis Kimetto, but maybe after an invigorating jolt of java you can one run just a little bit quicker and burn some fat in the process. Caffeine can improve performance by 1.5 to 3 percent, recent studies show. And the amount needed to give the boost is no more than that in an 8-ounce cup of coffee or an energy drink or two.
Sages and philosophers from various world traditions have counseled “Everything in moderation,” and, stated another way, “Nothing in excess.” These aphorisms apply to caffeine, too, because too much of this otherwise beneficial chemical can cause insomnia, nervousness, muscle tremors and stomach upset.
When people talk about having “a cup of coffee,” they don’t necessarily mean 8 ounces (236 milliliters). For example, many people go for the large size of coffee at McDonald’s restaurants and Starbucks, at 20 ounces (591 milliliters). Or at home, they may have a 12- to 16-ounce mug.
So when you read guides online that say an 8-ounce cup of drip java has about 163 mg of caffeine, you can more than double the amount of the stimulating chemical for a 20-ounce size. Drip coffee is the kind that drips through a filter to produce that cup or mug of the elixir that so many people say they can’t start their day without.