How much is too much?

Piece by Kwazi Dlamini – FabMags Intern 

Henry Rollins said “What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup!” That is what I have witnessed in the FabMags office: one cup of coffee is always followed by another.

It’s my first time in the working environment, and I have observed a few things about office life. But what caught my attention was the amount of coffee everyone was having. (Shocking, I think…but, hey. The magazine business is stressful ;))

There have been myths and rumours about what coffee does to your body.  If you sit behind the computer the whole day, then you’re going to feel like swishing something around in your mouth every few hours. And what better than a cup of warm coffee?

But the question remains, is coffee a cure or a poison?

Growing up, I was told coffee is not good for my health and only older people should drink it because they have nothing more to lose anyway (sounds harsh, doesn’t it?) The caffeine in it – a substance in coffee and tea that helps you feel awake – has been labelled the “killer chemical”.

Caffeine has both negative and positive impact on your health. Positively, it increases your attention span, improves your alertness and decreases fatigue; it also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also lowers the risk of diabetes and increases the metabolic rate in your body. But, on the other hand, an overload of caffeine can trigger anxiety and addiction, which eventually leads to withdrawal symptoms if you don’t have coffee for an extended period. High blood pressure and increased vasoconstriction may occur.  It also stimulates your bladder, meaning you’ll go to the loo more often.

Caffeine blocks adenosine, a substance that makes you naturally dozy, increasing concentration and reaction speed.  However the long term effects can be quite damaging: once the temporary stimulation stops, the brain cells start needing caffeine for stimulation and a sudden neural sluggishness installs.

People drink coffee for different reasons. Some want to stay alert, some want to study at night or…they just like the aroma of it. It is not recommended for adults to have more than 400mg of caffeine daily – that’s equivalent to four cups of brewed coffee. But, bear in mind that this is the absolute limit; anything more becomes harmful to your health. Two cups seems to be the safest option, I think…what say you?

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