Caffeine: friend or foe?

By: Kerrigan McVicker

For many, there is nothing like the smell of freshly brewed coffee. For real coffee lovers, it is one of the first things they think about when waking up in the morning. Not only are people in love with the taste of coffee, but some are addicted to the caffeine that is in every sip.

According to Villanova University, 90 percent of Americans consume some form of caffeine daily, making it America’s most popular drug. We rely on it to wake us up, keep us focused during the day and help us finish long nights of homework. Universities understand the need for the drug too, as many coffee drinks, sodas and energy beverages are readily available in coffee shops and small convenient stores throughout college campuses. Because of the many sources to receive caffeine on a daily basis, it can be difficult for one to shake the addiction.


How to know if you’re hooked:

According to , if you cannot go through a morning or early afternoon without a pick-me-up of some form, you’re probably addicted to caffeine. The National Institute of Health (NIH) advises that a few cups of coffee a day is suitable, but frequently overloading your caffeine intake is not highly recommended. Moderation is key for achieving a healthy diet; for that reason, caffeine consumption should be taken into consideration.


The consequences of caffeine:        

Marilyn Gordon, a registered dietitian nutritionist and a certified specialist in sports dietetics at NSU, said caffeine is a stimulant that tends to increase heart rate, blood pressure and mental alertness. Therefore, people use caffeine to wake themselves up and intensify their focus. However, consuming too much caffeine can cause one to become jittery, anxious or sweaty. Also, many people’s bodies respond differently to caffeine, so those who have heart conditions may experience heart irregularities.


How to kick a caffeine addiction

Because caffeine is a drug, cutting a caffeine addiction is not pleasant to endure. The two most common methods of kicking a caffeine dependence are the cold turkey method and weaning, or reducing consumption.

“If one goes cold turkey, most people will report that their head feels like it is going to explode off of their shoulders, so it can be painful,” Gordon said.

People can also experience grogginess and an inability to focus on what they are doing. Instead of going cold turkey, Gordon suggests to slowly withdraw from the drug by reducing caffeine intake over a period of time. This process, known as weaning, will allow caffeine abusers to have their daily fix, but less amounts of it over time. If this is done right, the person will adjust to the routine and ultimately kill their caffeine addiction.

Do not be alarmed. Your morning cup of coffee will not be a large detriment to your health. However, it is important to recognize how much caffeine you are consuming along with the effects it can have on your health.

Caption: Many people rely on caffeinated drinks, especially coffee to get through their day.

Credit: K.McVicker

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