Edited by Megan Cambruzzi
We all have those late nights of studying, long days, tired mornings; for this, there is one thing most of us turn to–coffee. I was never an avid coffee drinker, but when university started, that all changed. If there is one thing I cannot go without, it is my Cup(s) of Joe. I can assure you with confidence that if someone were to create a starter pack for me, coffee would be present. That being said, I am definitely not unique. If someone were to create a starter pack for any university/college student, majority of the time coffee would be included. However everything in life should be done in moderation. In terms of coffee, what does the “moderate” equate to? As we grow in society it is important to be inquisitive and prioritize our health. So in this article, I will be discussing the advantages of coffee for mental and physical wellbeing and answering the question: How much coffee is too much coffee?
Positive effects of coffee:
Aside from the alluring aroma and taste, coffee has major health benefits. A primary pharmacologically active component of coffee is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant; it blocks neuronal inhibitory activity and increases activity of the Central Nervous System. Studies have demonstrated that caffeine consumption can improve brain function, leading to improved memory, mood, vigilance and reaction time. So the next time a coffee lover tells you that they are in a bad mood attributed to the lack of caffeine in their system, know that they are not joking! Caffeine also has adverse effects towards boosting metabolic rate and ergogenic aid. Drinking coffee before a workout may enhance stamina and energy levels, helping in weight loss.
Being the most popular beverage, coffee is the standing contender for the largest source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects in the western diet . It also has demonstrated a high correlation towards lowering the risk of major chronic degenerative diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
Thus the mental and physical benefits from coffee cannot be overlooked. However, excessive coffee consumption also has negative effects towards mental and physical wellbeing.
Negetive effects of coffee:
Overconsumption of coffee may over-stimulate the neuronal pathways and lead to anxiety, insomnia, exacerbate panic attacks, etc. Caffeine is also an addictive substance and thus as people become more tolerant they may need higher doses to feel the impact of consuming the coffee. As a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, this is a lot of information to take in and sounds quite frightening. Where does one draw a line between the adequate amount of coffee and excessive coffee?
How much coffee should you consume?
One standard cup of coffee measures to be 240ml and contains 100mg of caffeine. Researchers have calibrated that the safest amount of coffee one should consume is up to 4 cups a day or 400mg of caffeine in a day.
Although there is a standard, many people including myself indulge in store-bought – and might I add overpriced – coffee. Caffeine content in places such as Starbucks and Tim Horton’s is highly variable. Hence, it is very important to track how much caffeine you are consuming. There are also many steps you can take to maximize the health benefits of coffee. Aside from drinking the recommend amount, you should also opt for drinks with lower sugar and consumption at appropriate times. For optimal effects, it is best to drink coffee from 9am-11: 30am or in the afternoon from 1pm-5pm. These periods are reported as ideal because they occur between natural cortisol boosts, hence the jolt from caffeine is testified to be most productive. Drinking coffee during odd hours may lead to disruptions in melatonin production, resulting in insomnia and delayed sleeping habits. As a student, sleep is crucial. You want to recharge your brain so that you can be ready, both physically and mentally, to take on the next day!
Thus the bottom line is, there is absolutely no harm – except maybe to your bank account – in your daily Starbucks run if you keep track of the amount of caffeine you are consuming. Whether you like your coffee steaming hot, ice-cold, frothed, spiced up or plain black, remember to drink the right amount and at the right time!
Doherty M, Smith PM. Effects of caffeine ingestion on exercise testing: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Dec;14(6):626-46. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.14.6.626. PMID: 15657469.
Gunnars, K. (2018, September 20). 13 health benefits of coffee, based on science. Healthline. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee.
Gunnars, K. (2019, July 18). Coffee and caffeine – how much should you drink? Healthline. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-coffee-should-you-drink#coffees-caffeine-content.
Ruxton, CH. The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: A review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin, 2008;33(1):15–25. doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x
Svilaas A, Sakhi AK, Andersen LF, Svilaas T, Ström EC, Jacobs DR Jr, Ose L, Blomhoff R. Intakes of antioxidants in coffee, wine, and vegetables are correlated with plasma carotenoids in humans. J Nutr. 2004 Mar;134(3):562-7. doi: 10.1093/jn/134.3.562. PMID: 14988447.
The best time of the day to consume caffeine. JavaPresse Coffee Company. (n.d.). Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.javapresse.com/blogs/enjoying-coffee/best-times-of-day-to-consume-caffeine.