The Great Coffee Debate

By Michelle Paschoal, Contributing Writer

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There are many benefits that come with the consumption of coffee.
There are many benefits that come with the consumption of coffee.
Photo Credit: Michelle Pashcoal

No matter where you go on a college campus, it’s not hard to find a place that serves coffee.

At Montclair State, walk into any building, and you’ll be greeted with the smell of the warm drink. From Green Mountain to Dunkin’ Donuts and Au Bon Pain, all of these brands of coffee can be found in various locations across campus.

With access to so much coffee, it is obvious why students are drinking it a lot. To some, coffee is equivalent to water. Coffee gives you energy, gets blood flowing and prepares you for both your busy days and long nights studying. But, how much coffee should you actually be drinking? Is coffee good for you at all? Here are some answers to help you figure out how much coffee is too much coffee.

It is important to say that too much of anything, even a good thing, isn’t actually good for us. But, there are positive and negative effects of drinking coffee. Consuming coffee in moderation is linked to a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and stroke. Drinking it in moderation can also give you energy and improve your grades by increasing your alertness during study periods and exams.

Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, which is the most used addictive substance in the world —it provides energy that helps us get through our day. Caffeine, not coffee, is actually what people enjoy and crave when they have coffee. The drink also improves brain function by inhibiting a neurotransmitter called adenosine. By blocking adenosine, other neurotransmitters increase, which leads to an increased amount of brain function.

Coffee contains various nutrients that are essential for the body as well. Riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin are all found in one serving of coffee. It also helps you burn fat and can give you a power boost in the gym or while working out.

Although all these benefits that come with consuming coffee exist, the drink may also lead to some unwanted side effects when not consumed in moderation. In fact, consuming too much coffee may lead to interrupted sleep, as drinking coffee close to your time of rest can irritate REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep cycles and keep you up at night. This can also correlate to a negative effect on your academic performance. If you cannot sleep because you rely on coffee to get through the day, then you may feel like you can’t function without it. Consuming too much coffee can also lead to a crash during the day for most people. Sticking to one cup and also drinking water throughout your day can help keep you properly hydrated.

Another thing to watch out for are added sugars and creamers in your coffee. As previously noted, coffee does contain many benefits, but adding sugar and cream decreases the amount your body actually gets. For people watching their health, a cup of coffee with added sugars can ring up 500 or more calories depending on cup size. For your morning coffee, try and stick to a 12-ounce serving with little-to-no added sugar.

An easy way to figure out if you are consuming too much coffee is to stop drinking it for a few days. If you start to experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and mood swings, you are most likely consuming more caffeine than you should.

So, what’s the bottom line? Go ahead and drink your coffee, but not too much. Stick to one to two cups a day depending on the amount you drink at a time. Next time you’re on campus, swing by your favorite coffee place and enjoy your cup of joe, guilt free.

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