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Coffee Vs. Water: The Truth About Dehydration

There are those who say that coffee is dehydrating and there are those who say that it contributes to your 8 glasses of water a day; but who do you believe? While we are all trying our utmost to be healthy, making regular trips to that office water cooler and getting the most out of life, where do you start when all the advice is contradictory? Nowadays many people say that it is a myth that coffee causes dehydration. However, the side effects of drinking coffee match perfectly with those of dehydration; namely a dry mouth and headaches. So, what does this all mean and who should you believe?

The caffeine in coffee acts as a diuretic, which means that the body uses more water to process the chemicals in the coffee. This results in frequent trips to the bathroom and if drunk in excess it can cause dehydration. However, the low dose of caffeine in each mug of coffee and the average amount that we all drink is not enough to actually cause dehydration. Naturally, in every situation there are those who take it to drastic lengths, drinking nothing but coffee throughout the day and carefully avoiding the drinking fountain, but even then it wouldn’t be enough to cause severe dehydration. So while this is a little relieving, why are there those who claim to have dehydration symptoms whenever they drink coffee?

The symptoms of caffeine overdose or caffeine withdrawal are very similar to those of dehydration and this is where the confusion lies. Anyone who has drunk too much coffee will recognise that familiar headache at the front of the head, but leave it too long without a comforting mug and that headache will show up in the form of withdrawal too.

The body can become reliant on regular caffeine and give it too much or too little and you will feel the effects. Similarly, drinking plenty of coffee can also cause a dry mouth and bad breath; typical symptoms of dehydration. When this happens many people find that making a few visits to the chilled water fountain and drinking water will get rid of that dry feeling in the mouth and usually alleviates the bad breath. So, it is understandable that most would assume that this means they were dehydrated, whereas in reality the water is simply flushing out the toxins and therefore the symptoms.

Regardless of the symptoms of coffee drinking, there is no denying that drinking water is good for you. Whether you choose to get it from your morning coffee or from the recessed drinking fountain at the gym, advice suggests that you should try to get as much as you can throughout the day. Many people working in an office have the luxury of a plumbed in water cooler that they can use at regular intervals during their working week, but don’t forget about evenings and weekends.