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Health Watch: Caffeine & Alertness

You drink it to wake up, to focus more, to get you through the day -- heck, even to sober up. But has the effect of caffeine on your central nervous system been overstated? A group of researchers from the National University of Ireland in Galway think so. In fact, they think that the only benefit you see from your caffeine consumption is to further your caffeine consumption.

Through their study, they were unable to find a measurable difference in alertness and cognitive ability in participants, and found that the only difference was the abatement of caffeine withdrawal symptoms regular caffeine consumers felt in the morning after their body had metabolized caffeine overnight.

For at least a month, they gave a participants either a placebo or a caffeine pill equal to one cup of coffee to take three times a day. They then tested their ability to concentrate, resulting in no discernible difference between the control group and the caffeine consumers. They also tested the control group's reaction to caffeine after having not had the drug in their system for quite some time and were also unable to track a noticeable difference in their level of concentration between their placebo state and caffeinated state.

So if it's not really waking us up, helping us focus and getting us through our day....why are we drinking it? Well, despite the position that drinking it may essentially be a self-fulfilling prophecy, we'll keep drinking it for the taste! Yeah, that's right -- for the taste.

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