July 23, 2019 | 67° F

College without coffee: benefits of cutting back caffeine

Photo by Brittany Gibson |

College students are expected to accomplish so much within four years. With this comes pressure and stress from school work, participating in extracurricular activities, internships and doing the best at maintaining a mental and physically healthy lifestyle. With all of this considered, it’s hard for many college students to imagine a life without coffee. 

“I’ll have at least one cup of coffee a day, but that’s a venti from Starbucks, and sometimes I’ll have two or more in a day,” Heidi Torregroza said, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “I need it every day — I can even have a cup at night and not have a problem falling asleep.” 

As reported by the National Coffee Association (NCA), 2017 marked the highest overall daily coffee consumption for Americans since 2014, reversing slow declines since 2013. Among the more than 3,000 participants of an online survey were younger consumers who reported consuming the most coffee. 

“More of us are drinking coffee, and younger consumers appear to be leading the charge,” NCA President Bill Murray said in the report.

There are some health benefits to drinking coffee that have recently emerged: A cup of coffee a day can potentially lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and can help prevent neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  The pros don’t outweigh the cons, though, as there are many health risks associated with consuming too much caffeine. Besides, college kids drink coffee for its energizing effects, not its alleged health benefits.

Consuming no more than 400 mg of caffeine — which is equivalent to approximately four cups of brewed coffee, or the amount contained in a Starbucks 20 oz. venti blonde roast — is considered safe for most healthy adults.

Ingesting more than the recommended daily amount can potentially lead to an increase in anxiety, disrupted sleep patterns and crazy cycles of restless sleep, followed by more insomnia. There are also more severe health risks that lead to increased blood sugar levels, which make it harder to manage insulin, as well as a slight rise in blood pressure and potential rises in LDL cholesterol levels due to cafestol, a compound in coffee. 

Coffee is a common household item, and depending on where you are, there’s usually a coffee shop within a mile away or even a couple of blocks. Since coffee is far from being considered a controlled substance, many people fail to underestimate the addictive properties of caffeine. Because it affects the brain’s dopamine levels similar to the way drugs do, caffeine is a stimulant. Coffee is easily accessible — there are dozens of places to grab coffee around the College Avenue campus alone. As drinking coffee becomes a daily routine for many college students, more people are finding it harder to give up, especially with a busy schedule and a lack of sleep.

While the headaches and fatigue will suck at first, giving up caffeine or lowering your intake is easier than it seems, and there are other ways to feel energized. Light exercise including walking, drinking more water throughout the day and eating foods with B vitamins, such as fish, eggs and dairy, are all alternatives that provide a lasting energy boost during the day. 

“I drink water and I take Maca, which is an energy vitamin,” Jade Latham said, a Rutgers—Camden Business School senior. “I also get my rest and exercise and eat reasonably well, and that seems to help my energy.” 

With all of the energy alternatives out there, coffee lovers don’t have to quit cold turkey, or even stop drinking coffee at all. Lowering your caffeine intake simply might help you feel healthier in the long run. 

Almier McCoy

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