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Caffeine Craze

We live in a world that runs on caffeine. According to USA today, approximately 83% of American adults drink coffee. Among them, 54% drink it everyday (on average, 3.1 cups per day). How much does this cost you may ask? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, about 40 billion dollars each year…. that’s a lot of coffee. 

There are of course several other products that contain caffeine besides coffee such as sodas, energy drinks, some flavored yogurts, teas, etc. With these factored in, it is predicted that over 90% of Americans consume caffeine every day

So, since the prevalence of caffeine consumption is at an all time high, it would make sense that it is heavily studied. The only issue is that with more research comes more findings…  which comes more contradictions… which comes more skepticism. There is a lot of information out there, but here is some in the simplest of forms; the good and the bad that comes with caffeine consumption:

The “bad”:

  • Caffeine “exaggerates the stress response,” which, especially when combined with stress, can put your body into an overworked state
  • Caffeine boosts your blood pressure. Although it is only an acute response, researches worry that this regular occurrence can yield some negative health effects (increased risk for cardiovascular disease, etc.)
  • *Coffee is sometimes masked in cream and sugar. Although okay in moderation, this can increase your daily caloric intake and intake of saturated fats and sugar. Even worse, artificial sweeteners are linked to several negative health effects over time
  • *Sodas and energy drinks are also a popular vehicle for caffeine. In a perfect world, there would be zero consumption of both of these products. Sodas contain empty calories and are loaded with sugar and chemicals, while diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners (see above) and even more chemicals. Same is true with energy drinks, but these also contain sometimes dangerous amounts of caffeine. When consuming caffeine, it is best to stick with black (or minimally sweetened) coffee, teas, or other natural products

*related to other product consumption other than caffeine

The good:

  • Caffeine may help prevent diseases such as type II diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease
  • Caffeine is shown to improve memory, decrease fatigue, improve your mental functioning, and speed up reaction times
  • Caffeine speeds up your sympathetic nervous system, delivering more oxygenated blood to your muscles. This can not only improve your mental focus, but also your physical performance

Like most things in life, caffeine consumption is very much individualized. Some may react heavily to one cup of coffee, while others may feel the same as they did before after six. When it comes to caffeine, it is best to know your limits and be mindful of what/how much you are consuming!

To find out more, check out this article: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/pros-and-cons-caffeine-craze#3

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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