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The Positive and Negative Effects of Caffeine

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Most of us can relate to the feeling of being tired from a long night out, or staying up at night to get that little bit of extra studying in. as college students we all know that we often have early mornings and rely on that cup of coffee or energy drink to give us a boost throughout our day. Not having enough caffeine can result in headaches and having too much can also have its effects. Caffeine can help us in multiple ways, and it can also have negative effects on your body. College students rely on caffeine, as well as most people who work every day. Everyone wants that little boost that your cup of coffee, or your energy drink provides because it makes us feel energized and refreshed and helps people get their day started and give them the energy, they need throughout the day to function. Caffeine can help you and hurt you but as long as you are smart and have an understanding of the positive effects on your body, as well as the negative effects, you will have the knowledge to not consume caffeine in large amounts many times throughout your day.

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is commonly found in tea, cacao plants, and coffee. Historians can track as far back as to 2737 BC as then being the first-time caffeine was introduced to the world. Although Caffeine is often an excuse on why we can’t sleep, or why we have anxiety, but it is not recognized for the health benefits that comes with it. Registered Dietitian, with an expertise in sports nutrition, Alina Petre of Healthline.com mentions that adenosine transmitters build up during he day and by the end of the day we feel tired, but once caffeine is ingested, it quickly absorbs into your blood stream and functions by blocking the neurotransmitters that relaxes your brain. In addition to caffeine being in tea and coffee, it can be found in a variety of items that are consumed daily by most people. Likewise, it can also be found in chocolate, breakfast cereals, hot cocoa and headache remedies. Caffeine is also a common ingredient in common fat loss supplements and pain medications. Coffee being the most common form of caffeine that is ingested, energy drinks can also have a surprisingly high amount and can also speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight.

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Caffeine is a natural stimulant to your central nervous system; it can boost your metabolism by an incredible 11%. Even though this is possible, Petre mentions that this can be possible, effects are likely going to remain small over long term health. Caffeine has also been known to help protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In recent studies, evidence shows that you can have a 16-18% lower risk of these health issues by drinking one cup of coffee a day. This stimulant can also potentially enhance your physical activity and exercise performance. As I had stated in a previously, a lot of fat loss supplements and pre work out drinks. People tend to consume caffeine when they work out because it can help the glucose that is stored in your muscles last longer, which potentially delays the time it takes for you to reach exhaustion. Along with saving glucose in your muscles, it can also improve muscle contractions and increase your tolerance to fatigue. If you can increase your tolerance to fatigue, you can work out longer and by doing this caffeine can help you reach your fitness goals. These are just some of the ways that caffeine can help your body when exercising and caffeine is one of the most used supplements for pre workout and pre workout is mainly used to give you that little extra kick before you exercise and can help you power through and feel less fatigued. Caffeine has the ability to reduce perceived exertion during exercise which can ultimately make your workouts feel easier. Consuming caffeine about an hour before physical activity it is likely to improve your exercise performance throughout your workout.

Although there are positive effects to consuming caffeine, there can also be negative effects. Even though caffeine is safe, it’s always good to know that like a lot of other things, it can become addictive and some side effects that are connected to excessive intake can include, anxiety, restlessness, headaches and migraines, and lastly can interact with some medications. (Petre).

In a study done by Sciencedirect.com 92% of students answered that they had consumed caffeine in the last year. I think that college students tend to consume more caffeine than others because college students tend to stay up later finishing assignments or studying for a test the next day. In the study conducted by the group of professors concluded that women are more likely to drink coffee than men are. Another interesting fact is that ages 16 to 19 were more likely to drink coffee than students aged 20 to 22 (Mahoney). I think that the reason for this is because students just coming onto a college campus in the fall have not had much going on for their senior year and summer so they have to get back into a rhythm and be able to sit down and complete homework and need to study when most likely they have not had to study for the majority of their last year of high school. I know that my final year of high school was really laid back and the teachers just wanted to get us out so that we could complete one chapter of our life to open another. I know that during my first year of college I had many nights where I was up late having to study so I would make a cup of coffee. Because I was up late studying, I wouldn’t get enough sleep and be tired the next morning so I would make more coffee. I was drinking coffee up to three times a day. I know that I cannot be the only one to do this on a college campus.

A lot of college students rely on coffee or energy drinks to get them through their long classes so they can stay focused and be productive after they are out of the class for the day. I think the reason college students rely so much on caffeine throughout the day is because they tend to not get as much sleep as they require because they may have a job they work on top of going to school and still having to make time to have a social life, have time to complete homework and study. Of the 92% that had answered yes to ingesting caffeine, the average intake daily was around 159mg a day. Apart from having a job and having to go to school I think that students have a lot going on in this stage of life and are stressed for a number of reasons, including being away from home and having to adjust to a new life at school. I think this takes a toll on college students and they are exhausted from learning a new system that they are always looking for that extra kick in their day and for most coffee is the answer (Mahoney).

Even though some doctors argue that caffeine cannot become addictive, there is still cause for concern. The reasoning behind why doctors think caffeine does not cause addiction is because unlike other abusive substances, caffeine causes surges of dopamine within the brain, but the surges are not long enough unbalance the reward system in the brain like other drugs. caffeine can have negative effects to your body as well, developing an addiction can have negative effects such as sleep disruption, migraines and other headaches, irritability, quickened heartbeat, muscle tremors, nervousness, and nausea. In an article found on “addictioncenter.com” if you think you have developed an addiction, there can be several symptoms including: A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to control and cut down caffeine use, being taken in larger amounts over a long period than was intended, or even a need for increased amounts of caffeine to achieve a desired effect. Even though these are only few symptoms of caffeine addiction you can experience number of other common symptoms. Karima R. Sajadi-Ernazarova from Drexel University College of Medicine notes in her article “Caffeine Withdrawal” that if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms like headaches or nausea that you can treat it with over the counter medications from a local pharmacy. Over time drinking caffeine regularly can cause your brain to change physically and alter the chemistry of your brain over time. Diagnosis for withdrawal can also include lack of sleep, anxiety disorders, and depression. Even though that caffeine addiction is not likely, it is still good to be informed on what the symptoms are and how you can handle all a caffeine addiction (Sajadi-Ernazarova).

There are ways to treat caffeine addiction and withdrawal, in Sara Ipatenco, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from the University of Denver states that a caffeine withdrawal headache can begin in as many as 18 hours of reducing or eliminating caffeine. Ways to combat with this withdrawal are reduce your intake gradually, by doing this you aren’t completely cutting off caffeine, but you can reduce the amount you take and your body will not have the desire to function on the amount of caffeine that causes your addiction. Being consistent with your caffeine consumption can also help you handle a withdrawal. If you decide to keep caffeine in your diet it is a good idea to be consistent with limiting your caffeine and being aware on how much you are consuming(Ipatenco). Lastly, sleeping and drinking water can help because if you are having a withdrawal headache, sleeping and getting a good night’s rest can help ease your headache. In addition to getting enough sleep, drinking water to stay hydrated can also help your withdrawal symptoms. By working on limiting your caffeine consumption, staying hydrated, and getting a good night’s sleep you can ease the withdrawal headache you have. This withdrawal can happen to average people because if you consume too much caffeine you can have a headache. People often make the mistake of cutting off caffeine completely and by doing this they experience the withdrawal symptoms stated earlier.

After analyzing all the new facts, I discovered and how I discovered caffeine addiction, it has educated me on caffeine consumption, how to deal with caffeine withdrawals, and things I can do to combat these withdrawal symptoms. I have a better understanding of the whole topic and am now aware of how caffeine can be good for your body but can also have negative effects. I learned where caffeine originated from and what plants it is found in. Caffeine can also help improve your exercise, and help you give that extra energy you need throughout the day. Caffeine is an unregulated drug that helps people function whether it’s in a cup of coffee or in a cold beverage they are drinking. Caffeine has numerous amounts of benefits like preventing fatigue and drowsiness, but can also have negative effects such as anxiety, headaches, migraines and can even lead to addiction. Caffeine has its pros and cons but overall if you can consume it and not rely on it all day every day you should not have to worry about developing an addiction. Withdrawals can happen to anyone but as long as you are watching how much caffeine you consume you will be good. After reflecting and looking back at all the facts caffeine definitely can help you in many ways and can also hurt you in many ways. I know that my caffeine consumption does not cause me to have withdrawals, but now I have the proper knowledge to make the right decisions so that I do not consume too much caffeine daily and stay within the 400mg recommended limits.

Works Cited

  • Caffeine Addiction and Abuse – Addiction Center. AddictionCenter, https://www.addictioncenter.com/stimulants/caffeine/.
  • Caffeine Withdrawal Headache Treatment. LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, https://www.livestrong.com/article/23488-caffeine-withdrawal-headache-treatment/.
  • Is Caffeine Really Addictive? NIDA for Teens, https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/caffeine-really-addictive.
  • Intake of Caffeine from All Sources and Reasons for Use by College Students. Clinical Nutrition, Churchill Livingstone, 10 Apr. 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561418301341.
  • Mitchell, Diane C, et al. Beverage Caffeine Intakes in the U.S. Food and Chemical Toxicology : an International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24189158.
  • Sajadi-Ernazarova, Karima R. Caffeine, Withdrawal. StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 July 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430790/.

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