Caffeine: Is it helping or hurting us?

17-4-caffeine

Wendy Sticht

Contributing writer

Looking around on campus, it’s easy to see just how many students are drinking caffeine. In class every day there’s at least a couple students drinking Starbucks or trying to stay awake with energy drinks. Others outside of the classroom are consuming their favorite caffeinated beverages in the Connection Café or outside of the library.

The amount of caffeine intake varies from person to person. Some may have a few cups of coffee every day while others may just have a Diet Coke. As the amount of caffeine consumed varies, the effects of caffeine vary as well.

Most people only think that caffeine affects the ability to stay awake; making it easier be alert while studying or taking a test. Although that can be true, caffeine has other effects that might get people thinking twice before having another Venti Caramel Macchiato.

Most Americans know what caffeine is and what its basic purpose is, but don’t necessarily know how it works inside our body.

Caffeine blocks people’s calming gland in their brains, causing stimulation in certain neurons, which results in the release of adrenaline, according to Overcaffeinated.org.

“Your heart rate increases, your pupils dilate, your muscles tighten up, and glucose is released into your blood stream for extra energy,” the website said.

Caffeine goes straight to the most powerful part of the body: the brain. From the brain it can stimulate the rest of the body giving someone that familiar caffeine buzz.

The affect that caffeine has on people varies.

Higher caffeine users who are considered to be “caffeine dependent” are more likely to not show the normal symptoms of caffeine.

Student Rachel Smith considers herself to be caffeine dependent.

“If I don’t have caffeine than I get impatient and irritated… I get headaches and crave caffeine,” Smith said.

After using caffeine for a long time, the body will become tolerate of it and will need higher doses to get the same effect. Eventually it doesn’t respond the same to it and will produce different side effects.

Caffeine users who are dependent will feel like they need to have caffeine to function day to day. According to CaffeineDependence.org, higher caffeine users will experience side effects that aren’t seen with normal doses of caffeine.

Some side effects shown with a high usage of caffeine are anxiety, feeling jittery or nervous and having an upset stomach.

Smith explained she did feel jittery and anxious when she first drank coffee but doesn’t anymore now that her body is used to the caffeine.

People who are considered to be caffeine dependent and then withdraw from it can have some intense side effects as well.

CaffeineDependence.org mentioned a few of the effects of caffeine withdraw being headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, anxiety and flu-like symptoms

Even though these symptoms were recorded, it doesn’t mean that they will appear in everyone who consumes large doses of caffeine.

There are a few downsides to caffeine, but there are some good effects that can take place because of it as well. Caffeine can be helpful to your body if taken occasionally.

When consumed in smaller doses and not every day, the effects of caffeine are more positive. After taking caffeine, the body feels more awake, alert and energetic. While these are the general effects realized by most people, it varies person to person.

Caffeine can also be consumed in many different ways. The products in which you consume your caffeine can also help determine your effects because of other active ingredients in the product.

If someone is trying to get the normal side effects of just caffeine without the other additives that come in coffee or energy drinks, then caffeine supplements will work best.

Caffeine supplements are more likely to give you the positive effects of caffeine, and are much better for you than trying to get the same amount of caffeine in coffee.

One student mentioned he used to take caffeine supplements before his wrestling matches because it would give him energy, and make him more alert but didn’t have the drawbacks that came from consuming drinks that have a lot of sugar and slow you down later in the day.

Caffeine can be beneficial if it’s used properly. It’s important that consumers be smart when using any substance because like everything else, if you use too much of it then it can be bad for you.

“Caffeine is great, I couldn’t survive my early morning classes without it, but I can tell when I’ve had too much,” student Dana Henry said. “It’s important to learn to go with your limits and listen when your body is saying it’s had too much and needs a break.”

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Caffeine: Is it helping or hurting us?

by Contributing Writer time to read: 3 min
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