Whether you’re avoiding a nasty hangover, fighting the common cold, or caffeinating for the long day ahead, one thing is certain: drinks have power. Use that power wisely by ditching the old myths in favor of some real drinking knowledge.
Myth: “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, in the clear.”
Truth: Yes, if you’ve been sipping on beer all night and decide to throw back a couple of shots, you’ll feel the effects on fewer shots because you’re already slightly intoxicated by the beer. If you try taking your normal number of shots after drinking any alcoholic beverage, chances are you’ll probably get sick. It doesn’t matter what you drink first or second—just be careful with how much alcohol you consume when mixing different drinks.
Myth: Herbal tea is tea.
Truth: All teas come from just one plant, the camellia sinensis, and we get green, black, or oolong teas depending on the way that the leaves are processed and when they are harvested. Herbal teas that come from other flowers and herbs aren’t actually “teas,” but rather “tisanes.” Rooibos teas, on the other hand, come from a seed that grows in Africa. That’s why herbal teas may taste good, but their health benefits are far below those that come from the tea plant. So the next time you want to replace your morning coffee with something a little more antioxidant-dense, look for a green, black, or oolong tea rather than something herbal.
Myth: Mixing alcohol and caffeine will make you more drunk.
Truth: Mixing alcohol and caffeine will not make you more drunk, but it will change the way that your “drunk” feels. Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is categorized as a depressant, so mixing the two will change the way you think and act. You’ll feel more awake, which will lead you to think you feel less drunk, prompting you to drink more. Overall, your level of intoxication will be the same if you chase those three shots with lemonade instead of Red Bull.
Myth: Coffee has more caffeine than tea.
Truth: Coffee and black tea generally have the same amount of caffeine. Black tea also has more nutrients, so switch out your morning cup o’ joe for a cup of English Breakfast. Green tea, however, has caffeine, but nowhere near the amount that you’d find in coffee or black tea. Try it as an afternoon pick-me-up in place of your routine latte—green tea is packed with antioxidants and has been linked to reducing the effects of free radicals that can cause cancer. Just don’t drink any sort of caffeinated tea too close to bedtime because, like coffee, it’ll disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you groggy the next day.
Myth: Drinking a lot of water is a good way to detox.
Truth: Contrary to popular belief, there really isn’t any research proving that water cleans out your body and flushes toxins. You also can drink too much water and harm yourself by lowering the salt in your body, which is dangerous and potentially deadly. It’s important to stay hydrated, and water is the best thing you can drink for your body, but be aware of the signs that your body sends you. If you’re thirsty, drink water. Don’t overdo it, and if you’re looking for a way to detox, check out this post for some real detoxing power.
Myth: Drinking tea when you have a cold can speed up your recovery.
Truth: Tea is full of antioxidants that your body needs to keep your immune system running, but not all teas are made equal. Some specific types, such as black, green, and oolong teas, have anti-inflammatory properties along with the antioxidants that sooth a sore throat and ease a cold. Most stores that sell teas have a specific section for teas that can build up the immune system and aid specific ailments, like a cough or upset stomach. They may not be the tastiest, but add some honey, drink up, and you’ll be on the road to recovery in no time.
Myth: Drinks with electrolytes replenish those lost when you sweat.
Truth: You’d be better off eating a healthy snack of protein and carbs after your workout. Sure, sports drinks contain a good amount of sodium and potassium to fuel you up, but you don’t really need them until after you hit the gym, and chances are, you’ll chug that drink and then want a snack anyway. So why not just skip the extra calories and unnecessary preservatives and keep hydrated with water? Unless you’re running a marathon, the switch won’t make a difference in your workout and won’t hurt your body.
Myth: You kill brain cells when you drink alcohol.
Truth: You don’t permanently damage brain cells if you drink in moderation. When you consume alcohol, you inhibit the neurons in your brain that send messages to the rest of your body. That’s why you become clumsier when you drink, and make poorly thought-out decisions (like that text to your ex last Friday night). Luckily, after recovering from your hangover, your brain will feel 100% better. Do be aware, though, that drinking alcohol too often and too much can have lasting effects on your memory and motor skills, so try to keep the blacking out to a minimum.