By Abby Ott, Staff Writer
Most adults drink coffee daily, and many individuals drink sodas and energy drinks often. Exactly what kind of impact does caffeine have on the body once it has entered one’s system?
College students often devour caffeine in coffee or energy drinks, which assists them in staying awake into the late hours of the night to complete assignments. However, that may not be the healthiest option. Caffeine is a crystalline compound that is a stimulant of the central nervous system.
Rebecca Faulks, junior nursing major, said caffeine has the ability to increase one’s heart rate and dehydrate the body. If a person is addicted to caffeine, then side effects, such as headache and anxiety, may arise.
“As college students are cramming and studying, they drink coffee and then cannot go to sleep when they need to,” Faulks said. “Because it gives you energy, it can make you feel like you are not tired when your body actually needs sleep and rest.”
Faulks said individuals struggling with anxiety or heart conditions should stay away from drinking caffeine under all circumstances. Caffeine has the ability to raise one’s heart rate to a dangerous level and can make blood pressure extremely high. Caffeine also makes people more aware of their surroundings, which could lead to increased feelings of anxiety.
Energy drinks contain a very high amount of caffeine and can be particularly abused. They contain almost double the amount of caffeine that a shot of espresso has. There are no regulations set in place requiring companies to list the amount of caffeine in the drinks, so it can be difficult to know exactly how much is in each one.
“Caffeine solves a symptom but it does not solve the problem in our body,” said Alice Hardin, Jackson local with an interest in organics and caffeine alternatives. “We get exhausted because we are sleep-deprived, nutrient-deprived or working too hard. It allows people to continue living an unhealthy lifestyle.”
Recently, Hardin decided to cut the caffeine in her diet, and explained that instead of having natural energy, caffeine causes people to have extreme lows and highs.
Many alternatives to caffeine can be ordered at coffee shops. Espresso-free options include hot chocolate, cider and fruit smoothies.
Joy Moore, director of Barefoots Joe, said tea naturally has less caffeine than coffee and contains more antioxidants. Barefoots Joe carries a variety of teas, including multiple flavors of black tea, which has some caffeine, as well as green tea and herbal teas that contain no caffeine.
“Barefoots Joe offers a number of options with little to no caffeine,” Moore said. “All espresso-based drinks, such as lattes and frojoes, may be prepared with decaffeinated espresso.”
Faulks stressed the importance of self-control if one chooses to drink caffeine. She said to limit caffeine intake to one cup of coffee a day, and drink plenty of water as opposed to sodas, energy drinks or even sweet tea.