Not so long ago several of us coffee aficionados were discussing the effects of our favorite brews and how much is good enough? In fact, we even wondered if all the coffee shops on just about every corner with their late-night hours were adding to the edgy disposition and jitters some folks admit experiencing.
I recalled when I first started drinking coffee as a young adult at my first job out of college in New York City. One of my acquaintances recognized I was new to the coffee scene. He suggested always using of dollop of cream and not to drink coffee black. He asserted that a little cream cut the acidity in coffee. Seemed to reason. After all, every place I ordered coffee, cream was offered, so I didn’t question his logic.
Life goes on. Dark roast coffee continues to have a place in my wake-up call. And for more than half a century, I’ve put a dash of cream in every cup.
Then on March 24, a story arrived from Janet Hosey for Edward-Elmhurst Health with the above headline. The first line began, “It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t rely on a cup of caffeinated coffee to help them wake up in the morning.”
It’s also not unusual for some folks to take multiple coffee breaks throughout the day and evening.
“Caffeine is a natural drug that promotes alertness,” stated Denise Valero, M.D., an internal medicine physician with Edward Medical Group. “It typically takes about 30 minutes to affect someone’s state of mind, but it stays in your body for hours. It can take about 10 hours to eliminate the caffeine from the body.”
How much is too much caffeine?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says adults can consume safely 400 milligrams of caffeine each day — about the amount in 4 or 5 cups of coffee.
Caffeine affects everyone differently. For some, it takes several cups to perk up. For others, one cup of coffee jolts them into action for hours.
Regardless of personal sensitivity, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends limiting caffeine intake in children and avoiding it altogether for kids age 5 and younger. Kids can have trouble sleeping, anxiety, and higher blood pressure and heart rate when they consume too much caffeine.
“In general, pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid caffeine, since all the effects of caffeine during pregnancy are not known,” noted Dr. Valero.
It helps to be aware of how much caffeine your favorite beverages and chocolates contain. Many packaged foods and beverages include the amount of caffeine per serving on the nutrition label.
While most individuals are not likely to experience a toxic level of caffeine from too much coffee, the FDA estimates toxic effects, like seizures, can occur with “rapid consumption” of around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine or 0.15 tablespoons of pure caffeine.
Drinking too much caffeine also can lead to side effects, such as insomnia, jitters, anxiousness, fast heart rate, upset stomach, nausea, headache and feelings of unhappiness (dysphoria).
After reading all the information from Edward, I hit the internet to search for more information about coffee and to verify finally if cream makes a difference. This story cannot even begin to showcase the volumes dedicated online to the health benefits of coffee. And simply put: Black coffee is healthier than coffee with sugar and creamer, according to “The Healthy” newsletter.
On March 25, I began drinking my morning cups of coffee black. I’ve grown accustomed to the taste. At 10 calories per teaspoon of cream, I wonder how many pounds I might have prevented!
–Stephanie Penick, PN Publisher