How Much Coffee Is Too Much? The Answer May Lie In Your Chapped Lips

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Latte in Dappled Light

Image by Jarek Ceborski / Stocksy

Let's face it: People love their beloved brew. So much so, that it tends to dominate plenty of conversation in the well-being space. Most of the health-related questions about coffee dance around Is it good for you? and How much is too much? (answer: It depends, and everyone's body can handle different amounts). But according to gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI, there is a quick and easy way to decipher exactly when enough is enough.

The key? "Pay attention to your lips," he says on the mindbodygreen podcast. Here's the lip-coffee connection, according to Dr. B.

The connection between chapped lips and coffee.

OK, so your pout isn't exactly the caffeine whisperer; rather, your lips are pretty privy to the dehydration effects of coffee. Picture it: When you're parched, your lips and tongue feel rather dry, no? 

So check your lips first thing in the a.m. Are they soft and moisturized—or chapped and flaky? If you suffer from the latter, dehydration may very well be at play. In addition to slapping on a moisturizing lip mask, you might want to reflect on your water habits. If you're one to wake up and instantly grab for the French press, Bulsiewicz says you might want to cut back. He certainly takes note of his own caffeine intake: "If I notice my lips starting to get dry, that tells me I'm pushing the coffee more than I should," he shares.  

And that morning check-in is key: When you're sleeping, you're not drinking any water for eight or some hours (not to mention, you lose water through your skin while you sleep). When you wake up, instead of hydrating first thing in the morning—with two full glasses of water, as Bulsiewicz recommends—you might sleepily pour yourself a strong cup of coffee, which may give you a much-needed jolt of energy, sure, but your body may pay the price: "When you're dehydrated and the first thing you grab is coffee, that dehydrates you even further," Bulsiewicz says. 

That's not to say you can't drink any coffee at all if your lips feel a bit parched. Here's the solution: While the coffee pot is brewing, drink two full glasses of water. And when you finish your cup of joe, pour yourself yet another glass. That way, you can have your coffee and stay hydrated, too. 

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The takeaway. 

Your lips can tell you just how hydrated you really are. In the case of coffee, your parched lips can tell you whether you need to set down the mug and reach for a glass of good ol' H2O. So when you wake up in the morning, check your lips—if they're dry and cracked, you might want to cut back on the coffee. Or simply make sure you're drinking enough water in between your lattes.

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