Every single student that has ever taken classes has no doubt, knowingly or unknowingly, consumed some form of caffeine. Whether it be through their morning mocha-frappe-electro-turbo grande sized drink from Starbucks for that early jolt of energy, or the more bubbly cola product with the occasional burger, we are all guilty of it.
But there comes a point where we must ask the hard-hitting questions on this blog, regardless of how much caffeine we may consume. Just how healthy is caffeine for our bodies, and how much caffeine, if such a thing exists, is too much?
Firstly, we must understand what caffeine IS. It is, first and foremost, a drug, and in fact the only drug that we either find naturally in, and physically add into, the drinks and food we consume. These drinks and food include, but are not limited to, coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, ice cream, and candy bars. Consuming caffeine, whether through medication or a substance, also comes with a wide range of side-effects aside from the typical hours-long burst of energy, all ranging from a slight hike in blood pressure to, in some cases, thirst, anxiety, dry mouth, and insomnia. It also does not help drunk college students sober up at all, sorry everyone!
“But is it healthy, Sean?! Come on already!”
Alright, alright! A good way to imagine caffeine is as a double-edged sword. When consumed in moderation, caffeine-based products can have healthy benefits. These include protection against a number of cancers, lower risks of dementia and Parkinson’s, and even an increase in one’s life span by a few years when consumed daily. But do not rush to your nearest coffee shop just yet! While consuming caffeine may have some positives, it also has the potential to lead to becoming more jittery, having mood swings, an altering of effects from medications being taken, and experiencing cases of insomnia. Most important of all, however, is the possibility of building up an addiction to caffeine as a drug, meaning that unless a cup of joe (or typically more) a day is gulped down, symptoms of caffeine withdrawal will start to kick in, such as anxiety, depression, headaches/migraines, and more!
“Okay… but Starbucks’ Teavana® Teas are so good and I really want one. What should I do?”
Luckily, the Teavana® Teas contain very little, if any caffeine (see hyperlink above). However, the recommended caffeine intake of an average adult is about 400mgs, or roughly four cups of coffee, per day. Anything above that, and someone may risk running into some of the negative side effects I mentioned above. This allowable amount also changes depending on age, whether or not someone is pregnant, or their personality, meaning it is possible to ingest more than six cups a day and feel perfectly fine. Keep all of this in mind next time you go to grab that trenta sized iced coffee, which has nearly 300mgs of caffeine in it already!
As an alternative, perhaps try leaving a cup of water near your bed or in the fridge and drinking it first thing in the morning to help wake you up – after all we can hardly go a few hours without needing a refreshing drink, let alone eight hours. I personally found that the cup of water helps to wake me up and get me moving in the morning much more efficiently than waiting for a cup of coffee or tea to kick in long after drinking it. Another alternative is to try and keep tabs of every day products that you may consume so you do not go overboard on the caffeine!
So, for those of you who just skipped to the end – caffeine is a drug and can be healthy when consumed in a moderate fashion. Roughly 400mg per day is the recommend amount an adult should consume up to, and anything more than that can lead to some pretty damaging stuff. Try to be mindful of how much caffeine you ingest regularly for a more fulfilling life!
Do you agree or disagree with anything I said in my post? Have something interesting to add? Was I paid by Starbucks to advertise in this space for them? Feel free to leave a reply below, and any feedback is greatly appreciated!