​How Much Coffee Is Too Much Coffee?​

​How Much Coffee Is Too Much Coffee?​

As a college student, this article can be your best friend


Americans love caffeine. Specifically, college students love caffeine. Nearly 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine each day with coffee as the favored front-runner. In fact, more than 50 percent of our population drinks an average of 3.1 cups of coffee per day, which comes as no surprise after learning that more than 30,000 specialty coffee shops have popped up across the US over the past 26 years.

Though the monumental growth of the coffee industry has undoubtedly impacted our country's economic growth, it's important to understand the health implications behind this caffeine craze. Furthermore, as a current or prospective college student, knowing the pros and cons behind guzzling this proverbial "life blood" can help you make the most of caffeine.

Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, with profound effects on brain chemistry that makes it effective and addictive. To understand how caffeine works, it's helpful to break the science down into its effects on two main receptors in the brain: adenosine and dopamine. Adenosine is a chemical compound that's one of four integral bases of the nucleic acids that make life possible. Because this chemical is created in the brain, it's designed to bind to adenosine receptors and slow down nerve cell activity to ultimately cause drowsiness.

Caffeine looks like adenosine to a nerve cell, except that when it binds to the adenosine receptor, it doesn't slow the cell's activity. Instead, caffeine enables the cell to identify adenosine and causes the nerve cells to increase activity. It also causes the blood vessels to constrict, which boosts the firing of neurons and triggers a sense of activity and emergency in the brain's pituitary gland. The brain then releases hormones that prompt the production of adrenaline which has an array of side effects like increased heartbeat and blood pressure, dilated pupils and airways, and a boost of sugar released into the bloodstream for added energy.

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that prompts feelings of pleasure in the brain, can be easily mimicked by drugs like heroin, cocaine, and, unsurprisingly, caffeine. Though caffeine's effect on dopamine levels is much weaker than heroine, the concept is the same—it's what creates the chemical addiction to caffeine. There are numerous health risks associated with excessive caffeine intake.

While caffeine does temporarily boost blood pressure, the risk comes when this boost occurs over and over again, as researchers have discovered that this could increase your risk of heart disease. Regular consumption of soft drinks could lower bone density in women and can raise the amount of acid in your stomach, causing heartburn and an upset stomach. Because caffeine is also a diuretic, it can cause dehydration and could interfere with the absorption and metabolism of calcium.Whether caffeine is good or bad for your body has been a decades-long debate that seems to be almost settled. In fact, a new study has found that individuals who drink three to five cups of coffee every day have a 15 percent chance of living longer than those who don't drink coffee. Additionally, coffee has been proven to decrease the risk of stroke as well as the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

What's most important for you as a student, however, is that Johns Hopkins researchers have found that caffeine also contains properties that can enhance your memory. While caffeine is proven to have a positive effect on long-term memory, this study found that caffeine can also enhance your ability to retain certain memories for at least 24 hours post-consumption.

Scientists, doctors, and experts across the board recommend that, though caffeine may have several benefits, it should be consumed in moderation. In fact, research shows that drinking or taking more than 400 milligrams of caffeine at a time is too much, and can interfere with your sleep and feelings of stress and anxiety. One particular study11 found that 200 milligrams of caffeine is the ideal amount if you wish to enhance cognitive functioning and improve your mood.

As you now know, there are several benefits of caffeine that can help you succeed in college, especially when it comes to completing course material and studying. Whether you're a parent, working professional, or someone interested in starting a new career, you can now have confidence going to class, knowing caffeine isn't your enemy—it's your friend (but only as long as you drink it in moderation).

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Sweet Potatoes Are The Most Underrated Vegetable Of All Time

Everything you need to know about the pieces of edible gold we call "sweet potatoes" and why they will always perish over any plain old potato.


The potato. The heart of the American food industry. A versatile vegetable crop soaked in grease that brings us some of our favorite appetizers and sides. From french fries, to curly fries, to tater tots, to baked potatoes, to hash browns, this hallowed vegetable has become the Johnny Depp of the vegetable family. Now, we are all aware that the configurations of potatoes are limitless, but we commonly disregard the potato's delicious and neglected brother: the sweet potato. I, a credible food connoisseur and highly experienced eater, am here to tell you why you are missing out on a world of flavor if you choose to dismiss the beloved sweet potato and its many entities.

Let me first start this tirade by proving to you my credibility...I, too, once believed that regular french fries were better than sweet potato fries. I scoffed at the idea of choosing those ridiculous orange sticks over my tried-and-true plain boys. I could not be convinced that any sweetness should impede on my savory snacks.

These were dark times.

It was not until a mere month ago that my mind was changed forever.

It was a sunny (scary) Sunday morning, and my pounding head led me on a mission to indulge myself in the finest breakfast foods. I entered my favorite breakfast diner, Angelo's, and waited anxiously for my waiter to stroll over. She filled our water cups and asked if we wanted to start with any appetizers. Before my stingy self could even decline the offer, my best friend ordered a round of sweet potato fries for the table and the waiter scurried away. I stared blankly at her for a solid minute. I could not wrap my head around the concept of munching on sweet potato fries at 8 in the morning. She just stared back and said, "Trust me." Suddenly, a tray of blood orange sticks and a mysterious tan sauce appeared in front of my face. As much as I wanted to ponder the morality of this decision, the hunger began to take over, and I shoved one of the fries into my mouth.

In an instant, it was as if time and space had lost all meaning. When my teeth hit the fry, the perfectly crusted outer shell crunched softly making a sound much like your foot crushing a dried leaf. The now exposed inside of the fry was the perfect blend of mush and warmth that felt like your mouth was receiving a hug. The flavor...unbelievable. It didn't take me long to realize that this wasn't a fry — this was a culinary experience. This fry single-handedly blew the roof off of any predisposed ideas I had about American cuisine.

I am well aware that my fry experience cannot be simulated again by any average food-goer, but I challenge you, the reader of this article, to get out there and enjoy a sweet potato in any form. Stray from your basic fries or tater tots and dabble in a sweet treat which will undoubtedly bring you flavorful satisfaction.

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