Dunkin Donuts is correct; our country does in fact “run on” coffee. We use it to wake up in the mornings, pull through our post-lunch crashes, and enable ourselves to stay up for all night cram sessions. However, how many people actually know how it works? Not many. With so many myths, and so many studies, it is easy to get mixed up with what caffeine actually does. This is why whenever I mention I drink coffee, I get angry stares from adults who equate caffeine consumption to heroin addiction.
Caffeine is the chemical in coffee responsible for its effects. The reason that it helps to keep you awake is that it disrupts your body’s ability to sense exhaustion, thus letting you finish that 10-page term paper due in the morning. Caffeine is, in fact, a drug. In high dosages over prolonged periods, it can cause physical and psychological dependency, and can be lethal at extremely high doses. However, to actually get addicted, you would need to drink 6-7 cups a day, and to die you would need around 100 cups. Caffeine can also cause jitteriness, inability to sleep, and because it is a diuretic, it makes you pee a lot. Despite these side effects, coffee has many redeeming qualities.
Coffee is great because it contains many antioxidants. It also has been proven in studies to lower the risks of certain kinds of cancers (conversely, it raises the risks of others, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.) It has been shown to lower chances of depression, help treat asthma, and improve athletic performance. The list of the benefits of coffee go on and on, and while high dosages can have some unpleasant consequences, reasonable amounts of caffeine in your system will not stunt your growth, make you lose all of your hair or whatever other myths are out there. However, the key word here is reasonable. If you’re having 6 cups a day, maybe you need to cut back just a tad.