Are We Taking Too Much Coffee?

Nigerians are known for their love of soft drinks, tea, and including caffeine drinks like coffee and energy drinks. There has been a recorded increase in the intake of caffeine in the country. There has never been a need for Nigeria to produce it but the growing Nigerian demand for the beverage, particularly among young middle class and the well-traveled, could soon change that.

While still low, coffee consumption in Nigeria rose by more than 20% between 2010 and 2015. Euro monitor predicts Nigerians will drink more than 1,000 tons of coffee in 2020. Caffeine is found all around us. It is found in the leaves, seeds or fruits of plants and different foods we eat. For that reason, this article will focus more on caffeinated coffee because it has more amount of caffeine and will serve more purpose for the article.

After asking various random people their reasons for taking coffee, here’s what they had to say.

Why do you take coffee?

Arnold: I started taking it because I like the smell. It then gradually became a daily habit and it helps me stay focused.

Clara: I like and enjoy the taste.

Have you noticed any side effects no matter how subtle?

Arnold: Yes, when i take coffee i feel okay but 6 hours later, I feel so tired and unable to focus. Additionally, it gives me brown teeth.

Clara: I noticed that any day I take coffee; I sleep earlier than days when I don’t take. It makes me feel very exhausted hours after taking it. It’s like a rush.

Do you think you can go five days without taking coffee?

Arnold: I haven’t tried but I think I can.

Clara: I don’t take it every day so yes.

What quantity do you take per day?

Arnold: at least 2 cups.

Clara: On days I take it, just one cup of freshly brewed coffee.

I asked another group of random people why they don’t take coffee, here’s what they had to say.

Why don’t you take coffee?

Stephanie: I’m more of a tea person because tea has more health benefits. Plus, some tea has some amount of caffeine just not as much as that found in coffee.

Ben: I don’t take coffee because I know a couple of people that got affected over time for taking coffee excessively.

Kayode: I prefer decafe instead because of the low dose of caffeine in it.

Sanusi: I don’t think it’s valuable

Sam: I have enough energy so I don’t need to enhance or boost it.

Notice anything recurrent? Before we talk about that and take sides, we should really understand what caffeine is.

What you should know about Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and a drug. It is recorded as the most used drug in the world. It is a natural stimulant and it can be found in the leaves and seeds or fruits of plants as stated earlier. Caffeine Is therefore in the daily life of most Nigerians knowingly or unknowingly. To what extent is caffeine good for you? According to WHO, caffeine like nicotine meets some of the criteria of the WHO and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for a drug dependence and acts on the dopamine system in the same way as amphetamines and cocaine.

Caffeine and its metabolites are known to cross the blood-brain barrier readily in adults. Studies have shown that coffee consumption is associated with estrogen levels, which means an increase for breast and endometrial cancer.

It is important to note that the effects of caffeine can vary between individuals which may be why there are mixed messages surrounding if caffeine is good for us or not.

Benefits

Before you come at me with the benefits of coffee and how much you enjoy it. Calm down. It’s not all bad. There are obviously brighter sides of caffeine.

  1. People who take caffeine in this country are especially students and working class adults. This is because it “helps” them stay focused for longer hours.
  2. Cuts the risk of throat cancer and some research also include skin cancer but it’s not exactly valid yet
  3. Detoxifies the liver

These three amongst a host of other benefits are what research has proven about why we should continue to take caffeine especially through coffee.

A cup of Caution

While caffeine is the “next best thing after sliced bread”, let’s not throw caution to wind just yet. The side effects of caffeine are countless peculiarly if taken in high doses. And the worst part is that you don’t see these effects right away. They take time, even years and you and I know that anything that has a long-term effect is almost always adverse. I’ll list some reasons why to save your time

  1. Insomnia, headaches, irritability, restlessness, hallucinations, nervousness and increased urination.
  2. Caffeine has been shown to inhibit absorption of iron and calcium which may lead to fluid loss.
  3. Constriction of blood vessels can also occur when caffeine is ingested which can cause poor circulation.
  4. Diabetics are often cautioned to avoid caffeine because it leads to an increase in blood sugar
  5. For pregnant women with high daily caffeine intake (more than 300 mg per day), lowering daily caffeine intake during pregnancy is recommended to reduce the risk of pregnancy loss and low birth weight neonates.
  6. Given the positive effects caffeine can have as a stimulant, professionals believe that it can result to caffeine addiction. some people can become physically dependent on caffeine, with absence or reduction of coffee consumption in these individuals resulting in caffeine withdrawal. This is a whole new topic on its own so it’s best we don’t say anything further on this.
  7. Studies have shown that it makes people emotionally unstable

How much is too much?

The side effects are endless as you should have figured by now. And I suppose you now ask the same question on my mind. How much is too much?

Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks. Keep in mind that the actual caffeine content in beverages varies widely, especially among energy drinks.

Although caffeine use may be safe for adults, it’s not a good idea for children. Adolescents should limit caffeine consumption. Avoid mixing caffeine with other substances, such as alcohol.

Even among adults, heavy caffeine use can cause unpleasant side effects. And caffeine may not be a good choice for people who are highly sensitive to its effects or who take certain medications.

Here’s what I think. The side effects of caffeine really severe especially if you’re highly sensitive. But how do you even know if you’re sensitive? I’ll rather not find out though. I know by now; you probably think I am totally against caffeine use. Well, you’re wrong, no I don’t think caffeine is an abomination that should be banished.

I’m just on the side of moderation and caution. You like coffee? By all means indulge. Like they say, too much of everything is bad. Caffeine is a stimulant. You should probably read on that if you’re not too clear then perhaps you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

If you’re a student or if you’re not and you take it for focus and concentration, there are myriad of alternatives you can try out. you can check out my article on benefits of tea.