One latte too late: Caffeine, the student body’s new crutch

We’ve all been there: the plan of sailing through college on a wave of parties, pints and Pot Noodles. It always somehow comes to an abrupt halt and that assignment that seemed light-years away is due the following day. Plan of action? Pull an all-nighter with a big, hot steaming mug of coffee in the hopes of scraping a pass the next day.

Has what started as the odd cup, evolved into a crutch for some students that rely on it in order to survive a stressful, sleep deprived semester? Have we, as a student body become addicted to drinking too much coffee?

Ancient legend has it that Ethiopian shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when their goats became frisky and began to ‘dance’ following a few mouthfuls of the coffee berry. Since then, our fast-paced lives and coffee trends have moved hand in hand. There are 50 different types of coffee available, it is worth €30 billion per year to its producing countries, it’s the second most popular drink and it’s the second most traded commodity on earth after oil.

The explanation behind coffee’s addictive attributes lie with the sciences. A section of the brain, called adenosine only wishes to mingle with certain receptors. When these two meet, you become drowsy and lethargic but when our friend, Mr Caffeine, is consumed, he attaches himself to these receptors so that the adenosine cannot. One’s pituitary gland sees this and thinks there’s an emergency and, in turn, kicks your adrenaline into action, pumping it around the body. This may sound very appealing but coffee can have its serious disadvantages.

Coffee is a proven psychoactive drug, which affects the mind and high doses can make you see weird and wonderful things. It contains over 1,200 chemicals and experts reckon a lethal dose of caffeine is roughly 100 cups, which can kill a human and this is a serious cause for concern. However, with 10g of caffeine considered the lethal dosage, you would only need 24 venti-sized coffees.

A Starbucks employee from the DCU restaurant was unable to provide The College View with the exact figure of cups of coffee that were sold there per day, commenting, “we sell a lot of coffee. Although some choose herbal teas, that number is very small and the majority would choose coffee”.

“I used to love drinking coffee, especially lattes and cappuccinos until I realised how creamy and bad they are for you. I think that drinking coffee is mostly psychological and it does work because our subconscience is telling us that we should be more alert now so we actually are”, said third year DCU journalism student, Emma O’ Rourke.

But if your tipple of choice is a double chocolate-chip frappuccino, fear not because it is not all bad. A study undertaken by the Harvard School of Public Health found that regular caffeine consumption reduced the risk of depression by 20%. It can reduce the risk of skin cancer, reduce inflammation and also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

If you’re unsure as to whether your coffee consumption has become a serious problem, simply embody the old phrase ‘everything in moderation’.

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