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Consuming coffee not as cracked up as it is said be

A coffee barista hands a customer a cup of java during a busy morning in Bldg. 8.

A coffee barista hands a customer a cup of java during a busy morning in Bldg. 8.

By Dylan Shackelford – Photos by Brad Bakke

There you are again, holding that warm cup of coffee in your hand, hoping that it gives you the boost you need to get you through another morning class.

But as you take a drink of that rich cup of caffeinated beverage, have you truly considered whether it’s a necessary morning pick-me-up, or even whether it’s good for you?

Many students and staff alike find themselves in the coffee lines each day.

Kanna Murashige, a Chemeketa student who describes herself as a daily coffee drinker, said it would be sad if she could no longer drink coffee.

“I can’t even imagine not having coffee,” she said.

Murashige is not alone.

Melody Shultz, another student who calls herself a regular coffee consumer, said, “I am sleepy all day if I don’t have coffee. It’s as though I never get past that groggy feeling.”

When Shultz does have her morning coffee, she said, “It helps me wake up, and I am more alert.”

For Chemeketa coffee drinkers, it’s all about the caffeine.

Not everyone is enamored with the drug, however, and with good reason. Too much caffeine can become problematic.

According to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., most healthy adults can consume up to four cups of coffee (or 10 soft drinks) a day. Problems associated with too much caffeine consumption, include:

  • Insomnia;
  • Nervousness;
  • Restlessness;
  • Irritability;
  • Stomach upset;
  • Fast heartbeat; and
  • Muscle tremors.

Rebecca Mickel, an instructor in Chemeketa’s nursing program, is a coffee fan who also moderates her consumption.

“I do have a daily diet Pepsi in the a.m., as soft drinks have a third of the caffeine as coffee,” she said.

Mickel recommends that students who want to reduce their caffeine intake should consider a protein-rich breakfast because protein digests slowly and provides a steady amount of energy.

Coffee can be an effective tool for students, but it’s best viewed as a temporary solution.

“The body will become dependent on the substance to wake up,” Mickel said.

This is true for Murashige.

“When I don’t drink coffee, I feel tired and it’s harder for me to focus,” she said.

The amount of caffeine that is contained in many common drinks can be a surprise to the uninitiated.

The amount of caffeine in a 16-ounce Starbucks Grande coffee, for example, is 330 milligrams. In comparison, a can of a monster energy drink has 160 milligrams of caffeine per 16 ounces.

And yes, you might want to read that last sentence again.

The Mayo Clinic, meanwhile, reports that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears to be a safe level for most healthy adults.

Mickel is quick to remind students that caffeine is a drug; people will become dependent on it if it is consumed constantly.

Adam Privitera, a Chemeketa psychology instructor, also is a fan of coffee.

“If it were legal to marry a chemical in the state of Oregon, I would have a ring on my finger,” he said. “I plan to be buried with my coffee maker.”

But Privitera also recognizes the drug’s pitfalls. He said that a coffee dependence can lead to serious issues.

“Some people have caffeine-induced headaches,” he said. “Some people will go through withdrawal in the absence of it. Your brain gets used to seeing a drug and will adjust what it does to somewhat counteract that effect.”

Privitera’s bottom line: “Moderation is important.”

Mickel agrees.

“Be aware of your body on caffeine,” she said. “It is a drug and has an impact.”

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