The Put-Downs of a Pick-Me-Up

You’re a college student, so no amount of coffee is too much — right? Not necessarily. While a cup or two may be the best way to start off the day, the amount you have consumed by the end of the week could be concerning.

Even through a jolt of energy feels like the only option to kick things off right, you may want to hold out on that urge. It can be hard, and if this applies to you, know you’re not the only one. Many young adults drink coffee regularly; in fact, according to a 2016 article in The Washington Post, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds drinking coffee daily increased 14%, from 34% to 48%. But coffee isn’t necessarily just part of “adulting” as many people may think.

Many college students fall to coffee as an automatic source of energy due to a popularly held conception of its uses. The University of Kentucky conducted a study concerning their students and caffeine in 2008 and reported that 76% of the students believed coffee would keep them awake during the day. In a small survey of 50 UC Berkeley undergraduate students taken in October concerning their personal relationships with coffee, 40% believed that coffee was a normal part of college life. Most people felt drinking coffee was necessary.

Coffee isn’t a booming business for nothing: It’s close to being the most conventional consumable pick-me-up. However, even aside from the energy boost, coffee is known to be high in fiber, to boost fat burn, and to contain other essential nutrients like vitamin B2 and vitamin B5. So, yes, coffee is great and doing its job, but what’s with all the fuss?

The same survey found that over half of the 50 students were unaware of the amount of caffeine in their typical coffee. While the usefulness of coffee is commonly known, it’s important to remember there’s two sides to anything; coffee’s other nutritional facts are worth taking a look at. Surveyors commonly reported experiencing side effects like anxiousness, jitteriness, and heart rate acceleration. Same other reported effects like diarrhea and headaches. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average cup of coffee contains somewhere between 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. This should be considered when the recommended daily maximum for a healthy adult of average weight is a maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine a day and when the University of Kentucky alone is reporting 78% of its students drinking above the recommendation.

When coffee is consumed in mass quantities, it can very quickly lead to caffeine overdose, which has now been included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. Caffeine overdose is characterized by a number of strong symptoms.

“The official diagnosis can be made when any five of the following symptoms are present: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis (you keep passing urine), gastrointestinal disturbance (upset tummy, diarrhea), muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, periods of inexhaustibility, or psychomotor agitation.”

DSM-5 has listed caffeine withdrawal as an official mental disorder, adding to related disorders already listed under the DSM-4 in 1994, including caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, and caffeine-induced sleep disorder.

Yikes. You’re probably wondering what you can do to avoid coffee now, but you don’t have to. The best move would be to first cut down the portions, and if you still feel like you need that extra kick, there are plenty of other ways to get that jolt.

Teas are great natural sources of caffeine, and they don’t contain as much as coffee does. Kombucha is a common favorite for all its benefits and its flexibility in preparation.

Coconut water, another healthy choice, is stuffed with bioactive enzymes and hydrating electrolytes that are sure to pick up your pace.

Sparkling water and apple cider are lower on the list. While the former serves as a simple refresher, the latter happens to be a sweet treat full of the apple’s nutrients. It’ll go right along with the festive season.

Don’t feel as if your caffeine habits have to be all or nothing. Take the time to learn what your tastes may be and have fun along the way.

When your day moves fast and it’s available everywhere you look, coffee can feel like the only way — that’s understandable. But now, with more understanding, you can hopefully find edging off of coffee more within reach. It’s important that with any regularly consumed food, you understand its health positives and negatives and your own personal habits.