Is caffeine good or bad for you?

Is Caffeine Actually Good for You?

Caffeine consumption has been linked to improved memory function and greater risk of heart failure.

28
views

Caffeine is often the staple of every college student's existence. Truckload academics, the pressure to perform, and rampant sleep deprivation all made me turn to coffee and other stimulants to keep my energy churning.

There's a romanticism, too, to dropping by a café and sipping espresso while working on an essay for class. Caffeine is a win-win kind of substance: it can be stylistic and energizing at the same time.

My caffeine dependency has waned since my early college days, yet I still find myself craving it. But is this "dependency" a good thing? Or should I be worried? I decided to do some sleuthing to find out.

The Benefits

Apparently, there is a website called The Caffeine Informer (who knew?). Here, I discovered a slew of benefits linked to caffeine consumption, including improved memory function, liver detoxification, and prevention of weight gain.

A host of studies have also examined caffeine's ability to lower your risk of a variety of cancers, kidney stones, fatty liver disease, and even suicide. Wow! Other studies investigate caffeine's ability to increase athletic performance, general stamina, and cognitive function.

The majority of these studies, however, used the word "associated" or "linked to." In the medical community, such terminology indicates that these studies are not 100% conclusive. Further research needs to be done to ensure that any of these "associations" become "conclusions."

Nonetheless, I can state from experience that caffeine does seem to fire and smoothe those mental circuits rather effectively; I've consumed caffeine prior to workouts with positive results, and I'm fairly certain my liver is happy (TBD). Caffeine can also elevate mood, making it a potential asset for individuals struggling with depression.

The Downside

I appreciated the fact that The Caffeine Informer also included a post scrutinizing the negative aspects of caffeine consumption. These, I will admit, proved to be more alarming—caffeine consumption has been linked to early death, heart failure, breast tissue cysts and cancers, miscarriages, indigestion, and much much more.

AARP was quick to back up these claims, pointing out that caffeine is, indeed, a drug—to which many people can build dependencies. Too much caffeine can indeed be harmful to holistic health, particularly given its capacity to disrupt sleep patterns, elevate anxiety, and even interact badly with certain medications.

One study affirmed caffeine's impact on how we manage blood sugar levels. Sugary caffeinated drinks can essentially lead to blood sugar volatility, "stressing out your brain" and increasing your odds of psychological distress. A similar study pointed to the fact that depressed individuals are more likely to drink high levels of caffeine, and that the substance itself can promote depressive mood.

Given the fact that I weaned myself off of coffee due to its ability to make my heart race—and my agenda loom in an ugly way—this makes a lot of sense. What's more, over 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis, and I assume that a large portion of this percentage tends to over-consume.

The Verdict

No single study, researcher, or article out there will claim that caffeine is entirely beneficial nor entirely detrimental. (I mean, Starbucks has to make a living somehow, yes?)

The bulk of caffeine's advantages and disadvantages appear to be medical associations, making it all the more difficult to define it as a hazard or kitchen-cabinet-standard.

Yet one thread does appear to ring true: the high we crave from caffeine impacts our physiology. It may require some moderation because it can all too easily become a crutch. It has the capacity to provide hazard and health, much like alcohol, other stimulants, and even some herbal supplements.

There are certain vehicles for caffeine that are better than others. Green tea, for example, packs in a lot of antioxidants and amino acids your body craves while delivering a mild energy boost. Gas station energy drinks, on the other hand, tend to offer nothing more than cane sugar and artificial colorings (in addition to a caffeine rush).

My verdict? Treat it like any relationship. Consume if you wish, but consume wisely. Don't be afraid to stop if it's not serving you well.

If you've read this post looking for validation for your current caffeine consumption, I'm not here to provide it (sorry!). I'm merely here to offer some of the facts that are swimming around laboratories, medical mags, and blogging platforms. Such statistics should not feel like a true tragedy. If anything, they should compel the kind of body awareness that can change your life for the better.

There are alternatives to caffeine, particularly if you find yourself reaching for caffeinated beverages for the sake of that vital, intoxicating energy boost. There are scores of mood- and energy-elevating substances, including herbal supplements, that can do the trick nicely, for a fraction (if any) of the biological and physiological cost.

I'm a fan of maca root, for example, consumed in beverage or capsule form. Maca root, also known as Peruvian ginseng, is revered for its capacity to promote stamina, improve cognitive function, and even address fertility issues (although the latter is certainly not on my radar). The surge of energy it offers most consumers doesn't result in the jitters, either, and it's even associated with hormone balancing potential.

You may also wish to try out ashwagandha, a known adaptogen that can reduce the impact of oxidative stress, prevent the development of free radicals (associated with cancer), and keep your energy on an even keel throughout the day. I consume this herb in capsule form, but I've been seeing health food store beverages with traces of ashwagandha lately.

Lastly, check out Chinese ginseng, frequently found in standard strains of tea. Be cautious with ginseng, however, if you are particularly sensitive to caffeine or stimulants. Some people report feeling overly anxious or jittery after consuming ginseng, so use wisely.

For now, if all of this sounds like too much, consider transitioning to more lightly caffeinated beverages, such as green tea (which as less than half the caffeine content of coffee). Easing your body off of this substance may be your key to striking the healthful balance you deserve.

Popular Right Now

Hailey Miller's Debut Single Is 'The One'

"The One" is available now across all streaming platforms.

35
views

Being able to blend genres well is a true testament to a great artist, and Hailey Miller has done just that. Breaking onto the pop-country scene with her debut single "The One", the song speaks to the lessons that come out of unfortunate heartbreak, and definitely resonates with people going through one. I got the chance to talk with Hailey about her music, Nashville, and plans for the future:

1. What inspiration did you pull from to write "The One"?

"The One" was inspired by a relationship I was in. It was young love, not the healthiest relationship, and was dragged on for way longer than it should've been. I'd pretty much worked through all the heartbreak by the time it was fully over, and this song felt like the final piece to the puzzle. To acknowledge that some good came from the whole experience, and that lessons were learned. It just kind of poured out of me. It was exactly what I needed at the time. I wrote it and instantly felt peace. Like I could finally let it all go. It's a different kind of breakup anthem, and I hope that people can connect to it in the same way I did.

2. Do you tend to pull from personal experience to write or do you write using a third person perspective?

I definitely prefer to write from personal experience. I've written from a third person perspective, but it always feels more genuine for me to write about things I've been through first hand. It's just easier! It flows better, and feels more honest. Especially if I'm planning on using the song for myself. As an artist, I always want the truths I'm speaking to be genuine. I feel like people connect better that way. If I can't fully connect to the stuff I'm singing, how can I expect the listeners to? Personally, as an artist, the stories behind my songs are just as important to me as the song itself. That being said, if I can connect to someone else's experience deeply, writing third person can be just as fun!

3. What has your experience been like being a woman in the music industry?

You know, I don't have anything negative to say about my experience so far. I've felt respected as an artist from almost everyone I've personally come across in the industry. This being said, I'm very aware of the challenges females tend to face on a larger scale, especially in country. But I try to not let it phase me. In my mind, I'm just an artist…not a "female artist".

4. Growing up in Oregon, what/who inspired you to move to Nashville and write country music?

My earliest inspiration was definitely my aunt. She was singing country music professionally when I was super young, so I grew up seeing that and my family was super good about surrounding me with all sorts of music. My dad had this thing where he would always tell me to "listen to the words" and then at the end of the song I'd have to tell him what I thought it was about. It made me realize at a young age that music isn't just sound, it's stories. I fell in love with country music and its stories. Then came along these powerhouse female singer/songwriters…like Taylor Swift, and that was it. I knew it was something I wanted to do, and I knew Nashville was the place to do it. So, I learned the guitar, taught myself how to write, and made the move as soon as I possibly could! It's pretty much a 19 year old dream in the making at this point.

5. How has Nashville shaped your artistry and/or songwriting since moving there?

Nashville has already shaped my artistry and songwriting immensely. I think the biggest thing is being around so many talented artists and writers. It's super inspiring! Every time I go to a show or writer's round in town, I go home wanting to work even harder. That's the magic about Nashville. In a place where the industry could feel very competitive, the community is so amazing that instead of feeling intimidated, I feel inspired. I think that's so cool. Being able to learn your craft in an environment like that, where everybody is willing to collaborate and learn from each other. There's no room to sit still and not work hard. I think that alone has made me a better artist and writer. I've discovered my own unique writing style and sound, and can't wait to develop it even more.

6. What has your experience been like releasing your first single independently?

It's been amazing! I've had the best time with it. The process was so fun, and such a learning experience. Since it was my first release, I tried to go into it with little to no expectations and I've been blown away! The support I've received is beyond what I ever expected, and people are listening!! That's all I could've ever asked for. I think putting out music for any artist, independent or not, is always a little scary because there's this fear that people won't connect to such a personal part of you. There's so much work behind the scenes that goes into it. But it is so rewarding to read people's messages about how they connect or relate to the song. It's the best feeling in the world!

7. What are your future goals and aspirations within the music industry?

I ultimately just want to keep writing and putting out music that I love, and that other people love. Whether that's on a small scale level, or a larger scale. As long as I'm continuing to make music, I'm happy! That being said, I'd love to do some touring soon, and work towards my first EP/full length album.

8. Do you have plans to release new music soon?

Plans are in the works. I don't have a definitive date for you guys quite yet, but new music is on its way! I've been writing tons and I have some stuff that I'm dying to get out. I'd keep an eye out in the upcoming months for sure.

Listen to "The One" across all streaming platforms now and keep an eye out for future music from Hailey!


Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

What Your 20's Are All About

Authenticity.

9
views

Being a twenty-something is glorious.

It's easy. It's beautiful. It often looks like a pair of designer cut-offs or a laptop on a beach. It isn't terribly serious.

In fact, it's rarely serious. Yet it makes sense--more sense than any other age because it's newly educated, self-discovered, and hopeful.

Right?

This is what social media tells me. It is what college told me. It is something many of us believe.

I am convinced, however, that there is more to it than this.

Someone or some book neglected to add a few more postscripts to this chapter of the Book of Life. Or maybe they were lodged under the "Recommended Reading" portion of the syllabus (and hence overlooked).

Whatever the case, your real twenties are about something in between the really good vodka and the wandering. That something has the power to shape this decade of your life into a different kind of gem.

(Yes, you can cut your teeth on it.)

Uncertainty

College (or life after high school) somehow perpetuates the myth that graduation precedes a concrete stairway. And that stairway leads clearly to a life path, a career, a vision, and a culmination, all to the tune of Jimmy Hendrix.

A bachelor's or associate's degree initiates many into the world of work and careerdom. But it does not necessarily make things any more certain.

Perhaps you've graduated with a degree in French literature and suddenly feel an impulse to stare at lots of graphs and statistics.

Maybe you have no impulse whatsoever. You have hobbies—fixing bikes, swiping left—but cannot seem to grasp a vision.

If you're like I was in my twenties, perhaps you sense you want to do everything your parents didn't, if only your feet would touch ground sometime soon.

This decade is definitively unknown. Not having a solid sense of what comes next is not an inherent fault of yours; it's part and parcel of life's whimsical years.

Want in on a shinier secret? All decades are uncertain. This one just feels the ripest.

If you wake up every morning and have no answers (or job, or health insurance, or girlfriend, or house), great! You're doing this right. Answers will emerge, but in the meantime, sit with the discomfort of being simply where you are at.

Forgiveness

As the decade of uncertainty unfolds, lean into it. I found that I could get more comfortable with being an unknown entity in my twenties by forgiving myself (and others).

You don't have to go to an ashram to practice forgiveness, although I'm not discouraging you from this path. Nor do you have to start embracing a new religion or giving up red meat and Cheetos.

Forgiveness starts with awareness. Beginning to recognize the difference between personal goals and societal demands is the prelude to following a gentler, more visionary path.

When I forgave myself for being a perfectionist, despairing that I would never find a job, and wondering if I really should have chosen my English major, life became much easier.

Science also tells us that our brains are still firing, forming, and developing in our twenties.

As such, friendships may peel away. Certain kinds of knowledge may dissolve. You may start to realize that holding grudges or avoiding conflict isn't worth it anymore—or is now worth forgiveness.

Forgiveness can also be empowering. It's one of many doors that can shuttle you more effectively into the unknown (with grace and a good pair of heels).

Exchange

Everything we learn in childhood, high school, and beyond is not necessarily the truth. The decade of your twenties is about the conscious and willing abandonment of past ideals, notions, and information.

To some, this may be simple rebellion. To others, it may be part of the self's natural evolution.

To me, it's about an exchange.

Being in your twenties can involve trading in those old ideas for more relevant ones. It's like a consignment store for self.

At this stage in life, a lot of things crumble. A lot of new buildings and scaffolding develop. Sometimes, this is brutal. It may feel unfair. It may feel like a relief.

No one is here to say that you have to be the self of your childhood or the self of eighteen (or last year). Mindfully weeding out the old and heralding in a more graceful, informed you will make that part of your thirties that much easier.

Risk

If you haven't gotten the memo yet, this is all really risky.

I mean, trekking across Mongolia, coming out, changing your name, abandoning your career, or taking up deep water diving isn't easy.

Forgiving yourself and leaning into uncertainty—those are hard, too.

A lot can get lost. A lot more can crack, splinter, and explode. It's a minefield for the mind and heart.

This decade may be the riskiest of your life. But that's how you know you're playing a good hand.

Without risk, the path becomes in danger of getting "too comfortable." That's one thing we millennials can agree on, at least—to be comfortable is to be stagnant.

I say, be risky. Feel imperiled, whether it involves a belief system or relationship or vision. On the other side of risk is knowing.

Authenticity

This decade is yours. It can shimmer, darken, or expand depending on what you do with it. No one can tell you otherwise.

Society may urge you to be free, playful, and exuberant in your twenties. Excellent.

It may also urge you to be driven, focused, and cynical. Also excellent.

But your twenties are really all about authenticity, or what you do with it. The greatest years of your life won't necessarily be college—they may just be the ones in which you chose to live powerfully within the scope of your greatest and truest self.

If no one was there to prep you for your twenties, or if you feel that the ones who were got it all wrong, take these words to heart. Be uncertain and timid. But also be audacious and genuine.

The one who's looking closest is, after all, you.

Note: Another version of this piece appeared on Thought Catalog.

Related Content

Facebook Comments