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  • Chloe Mastour

Opinion Piece: The Perfect Blend for a Cup of Good Cheer

Unbeknownst to most, the country’s leading nonprescription drug is none other than coffee (or rather, the caffeine found within it). I think most students can attest to having turned to the aromatically stimulating drink to pack in some extra hours of cramming, only to look up and see the clock reads midnight. For those like me, coffee is the most important meal of the day, a means of starting the morning on the right foot, especially after a long night of studying. It’s a vicious cycle, nonetheless.

Almost every morning, I wake up, wishing for a few extra minutes of sleep so that I can grumpily unroll out of bed. I start the day with a fairly large black coffee (otherwise referred to as big brain juice), to overcome any exhaustion so I may seize the day in all its potential. Maybe a cup of coffee would be more effective for you, as well.

Around two summers ago, South Korean schools banned coffee and various caffeinated drinks across campuses in an effort to promote healthy habits. The ban was placed due to most South Korean students using coffee to fuel their prolonged study periods as they face immense academic pressure. South Korea currently holds the predominant position as the number one Asian coffee drinker, with the average Korean drinking an average of 181 cups of coffee per year. Try comparing that to the average American, guzzling up to an average of 266 cups of coffee per year.

Caffeine is known to produce cortisol in the body, which, in excess, may cause a variety of health complications. That includes: anxiety, weight gain, and possible heart disease. One local physician stated that “Caffeine does increase blood pressure, which takes a toll on cardiovascular health. I see a lot of teenagers with borderline hypertension due to their large daily intakes of caffeine.” Furthermore, it increases the risk of developing insomnia and digestion problems. The local physician mentioned that “when you stop consuming caffeine you can have withdrawal symptoms.”

While symptoms can be in the form of a minor headache, people can experience more significant withdrawal symptoms such as night sweats, difficulty falling or staying asleep, shakiness, and changes in blood pressure. Medical oncologist Pamala Kunz listed the negative impacts that caffeine can have on young adults: “Caffeine now exists in many attractive forms – flavored teas, boba tea, sugary drinks like Coke, etc. From personal observations with my own children, I think that caffeine can make them jittery, anxious, and keep them awake at night.” In addition, caffeine promotes the unhealthy and somewhat cutthroat habits that so many of us have fallen victim to— staying up far too late in order to accomplish all of the day’s responsibilities.

Despite everything, I definitely think coffee deserves some more credit; besides, there are benefits to drinking your daily latte. I bet you didn’t know that Thomas Jefferson deemed coffee "the favorite beverage of the civilized world." The local physician concluded, “Now all that being said, I don’t think that caffeine is the worst thing in the world. Having it in moderation is key. Too much of anything is never good.” Similarly, Kunz agreed that coffee could be good in moderation. “In adults, I think that the benefits outweigh the risks when caffeine is consumed in moderation.” Research finds that coffee can result in a longer lifespan and lower the risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Harvard Health associates caffeine with a reduced probability of developing dementia later in life. So in moderation, your cup of joe is not only the breakfast of champions but may be quite beneficial.

Though considering that coffee addicts may face potential harm, it would be best to limit their intake. If you can, find a healthier alternative, one with little to no caffeine ; water, juice, or a decaffeinated option are good choices. Although one cup of coffee won’t make a substantial difference (and that wickedly pungent, pleasant taste will seem impossible to replace), the health risks for people our age are simply not worth staying up that tiny bit later in hopes of a more pleasant morning.

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