Caffeine Awareness Month

Are you a coffee drinker? Maybe soda or tea?

If you said yes, then you would agree with 96% of the American population who consume caffeinated drinks daily. Coffee is one of the most popular caffeinated drinks due to how quickly it can energize us, which is how it has become one of the most socially acceptable drugs in America.

Caffeine is one of the only drugs many Americans embrace without guilt. We can’t imagine a time when we didn’t fill our veins with caffeine in the early morning hours to start our days before heading to work, getting the kids ready for school or after a long night of studying for that big exam. It might sound like a stretch, but caffeine has been labeled as a true drug. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a drug is “a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body”. Studies have found that caffeine can improve mood and concentration, may even increase the length of our life! A study out of Harvard University showed a link between coffee and depression in women, with results showing those who drank the most coffee (four or more cups) had the lowest rates of depression. This same study also looked at the link between suicide risk and coffee consumption. Results were identical to the previous study, finding those who drank the most coffee were at the lowest risk.

We know coffee and caffeine make us happier when we drink it, but does it really make us live longer? A National Institutes of Health study revealed those who drink three or more cups of coffee a day lower their risk of death by 10 % compared to those who don’t drink coffee. They also found a link between coffee drinking and fighting off diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It is still unclear if it is just strictly coffee that produced the results or if it is the caffeine itself.

As always, with the good comes the bad. With as many positives as we have found with coffee and caffeine, there are an equal amount of risk or negatives to it as well. Caffeine is linked to increased anxiety, sleeplessness, or psychosis. Too much caffeine in your system can cause convulsions, coma, arrhythmia (the heart beats irregular or abnormally) and can even become fatal in some cases. Since people are so dependent on caffeine like a drug, the withdrawal symptoms are practically identical. Unable to focus, headaches, flu-like symptoms, significant distress, and functional impairment are just some of the effects of caffeine withdraw.

If there is one thing to take away from all of this, it is that coffee and caffeine should be consumed just like everything else in our lives – in moderation. Drink enough to reap the benefits, but not too much to over do it and cause severe harm to your mind and body.