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Coffee is a phenomenon like no other. With more than 400 billion cups of coffee consumed, coffee is the most popular beverage in the world. In the United States alone more than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed in the United States every day. Coffee is enjoyed by almost every single person you know. It’s openly celebrated by your friends, family and morning talk shows.
It’s important to remember that coffee is a drug. More specifically, coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant (drug) and caffeine is also very addictive. We all know someone who has used a variation of the phrase, “I just can’t get going until I’ve had my morning coffee.” But what they are really saying is, “I just can’t get going until I’ve had my morning pick-me-up drug.
I was personally not a big coffee drinker until I went to grad school. The constant studying, writing papers, and having to simultaneously study for school exams as well as boards made drinking coffee a necessity. I think this is how a lot of people start their addictions.
What’s Coffee and What’s in it?
Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. When coffee berries turn from green to bright red in color – indicating ripeness – they are picked, processed, and dried. Dried coffee seeds (referred to as “beans”) are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor. Roasted beans are ground and then brewed with near-boiling water to produce the beverage known as coffee. Coffee does contain some essential nutrients and is very high in antioxidants. A typical 8-ounce (240-ml) cup of coffee contains (1):
- Riboflavin: Vitamin B2: 11% of the DV,
- Pantothenic Acid: Vitamin B5: 6% of the DV,
- Thiamine: Vitamin B1: 2% of the DV,
- Niacin: Vitamin B3: 2% of the DV.
- Folate: 1% of the DV.
- Manganese: 3% of the DV.
- Potassium: 3% of the DV.
- Magnesium: 2% of the DV.
- Phosphorus: 1% of the DV.
What is the Caffeine Actually Doing?
Caffeine acts as a stimulant on your central nervous system. Its most noticeable effect is creating a state of alertness or feeling more awake. Again, I want to remind you that caffeine is a drug. Furthermore, most brain-altering drugs are outlawed or heavily regulated, caffeine is not.
Caffeine: The Good
Caffeine has been known to be a treatment for headaches and migraines. (Oslen 1). Some studies have also found people who regularly drink high-octane coffee (not-decaf) have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, by 45 %. Drinking four or more cups of coffee regularly can make 84% less likely you’ll develop cirrhosis (1Source, 2Source, 3Source).
Caffeine: The Bad
As with any drug, there are always side effects. Too much coffee can overstimulate the brain and lead to confusion. Caffeine also increase the amount of acid in your stomach, which may lead to heartburn or upset stomach. Your body will not store extra caffeine, but will process it in the liver and exits through your urine. This is why you might have an increase in urination shortly after having caffeine (Pietrangelo 1). As most people know, too much caffeine can also lead to insomnia or having a hard time sleeping.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms are quite common; increased irritability, drowsiness, and anxiety.
These symptoms will easily triggered by simply missing one cup of coffee from your regular routine.
It may be extremely rare, but it is possible to overdose on caffeine. Overdosing on caffeine can lead to the following issues (See a medical professional immediately if these apply to you):
If you have experience stomach problems, like acid reflux or ulcers, ask your doctor if it’s okay for you to have caffeine.
How much caffeine?
Let’s take a look at how much caffeine is in some common drinks. You can get a full look at the caffeine content through this link. Generally speaking, one cup of coffee (8 oz) contains 95mg’s of caffeine. Comparatively, most soda only contains 29mg’s and energy drinks only 74mg’s. The important thing to remember is the higher the caffeine content the higher the effects.
The most important thing to remember (which has been stated several times in this article) is that coffee is a drug. And drugs affect different people in different ways. Coffee may be a good pick-me-up to some people and have no affect at all on others. I have a niece who has ADHD and coffee actually has the opposite intended affect; she goes from hyper to calm. Only you can know what a good amount of coffee is for you, but it’s important to remember to listen to your body. If you drink a cup of coffee and get a stomach ache soon after, your body might be trying to tell you something.
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Gunnars, Chris. Healthline “Coffee Good or Bad?” Published Aug. 30, 2018 Accessed Feb. 8, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-good-or-bad#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10
Pietrangelo, Ann. Olsen, Natalie R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C (medically reviewed) Healthline “The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body.” Published Sept. 28, 2018. Accessed Feb. 8, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body