Coffee: Morning Fuel or Addictive Beverage?
Midterm season and the lack of sleep that results from late-night study sessions often have us reaching for the coffee cup in the morning. Responses like “I’ve had two cups today, already,” “I’m not even affected by the caffeine anymore,” or “I can’t start my day without it” that circulate in daily conversation only emphasize the dependency we students have developed on this morning fuel. How many cups can we “safely” have a day? Is too much caffeine bad for you? Are there downsides to gulping down multiple cups a day?
I personally am a huge coffee lover—even my favorite ice cream flavor is coffee. But how many cups can I drink without it causing health issues? The common phrase “everything in moderation” can be applied. Studies suggest that someone who heavily relies on caffeine is defined as someone who drinks four or more cups a day—or more than 500 to 600 mg of caffeine a day. This type of reliance on caffeine can actually have negative side-effects on our body, some of which include insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors. How much coffee an individual drinks also affects the individual’s sensitivity to caffeine. Men are also believed to be more susceptible to the effects than women are.
In addition to the negative side-effects listed earlier, caffeine can also disrupt normal sleeping patterns. Consuming caffeine to stay awake during the day may be the motivator to drink coffee, but it will also interfere with your ability to fall asleep and consequently will affect the number of hours of sleep you get. This will lead to a cycle and enhance the dependency on coffee.
If you’re experiencing some symptoms of caffeine dependency, here are some ways to help curb the habit:
- Keep tabs on how much caffeine you drink a day and slowly try to cut back on total intake. Try decaf!
- Choose teas, especially herbal teas that are naturally caffeine-free.
- Check pain reliever bottles: quite a few actually contain caffeine!
However, if you are taking in a “normal” amount of caffeine a day (200 to 300 mg), the effects shouldn’t be harmful. In fact, some studies suggest that these small doses may actually be beneficial: protecting against Parkinson disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver cancer. Coffee is also known to contain many antioxidants.
So where do we stand on what coffee can do for you? The truth of the matter is that many of us drink coffee every day. The key is to make sure that the intake remains at a moderate level so it doesn’t become a health hazard. This means that the next time you reach for that latte, just be mindful of moderation.
- Caffeine — You may like caffeine’s effects, but how much is too much? from Mayo Clinic by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/NU00600>
- Coffee and health: What does the research say? from Mayo Clinic by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coffee-and-health/AN01354>
Article by Nikita Rathaur
Feature Image Source: Health Fitness Revolution