As implied by the name, “Caffeine Awareness Month,” March is the perfect time to take stock of your intake of this alertness-inducing chemical. That’s because, despite the growing popularity and variety of teas and other decaffeinated morning brews, tens of millions of Americans begin each day with a cup or two, or more, of coffee. And a large percentage of coffee drinkers refresh their doses of caffeine with even more coffee or soda throughout the day.
Yes, there are proven health benefits of caffeine (reduction in the risk of throat cancer and stroke, for example), but there are serious downsides as well. Consuming more than 400 mg per day (five eight-ounce cups) may trigger anxiety, insomnia, and increased blood pressure. On top of that, as habitual caffeinated coffee drinkers can confirm, there’s often a “crash” when the intake of caffeine is cut off at the end of the day, similar to the empty-calorie “sugar crash” experienced by sweets lovers.
It’s natural in a spare moment to consider the effects of your daily habits, dietary or otherwise. So this month, take the time you might otherwise use to think about improving your work status or strengthening the bond you have with a partner or family member, and take an honest look at your caffeine consumption. Chances are, you’ll come to an important realization.
History of National Caffeine Awareness Month
In 2003, the Caffeine Awareness Alliance formed, with the mission “to provide objective, evidence-based information and advice to help reduce the health, social, and economic harm associated with caffeine abuse and addiction.” The Alliance became a 501(c) nonprofit, and staked a big enough claim with their solid points about caffeine overuse to bring National Caffeine Awareness Month into wide recognition.
If you’re like us, you love your morning joe. But there is simply no argument that caffeine is not an addictive drug, one that’s also medically harmful in the long run. It’s easy to joke about being jumpy from coffee, or to answer the question, “Don’t you think you should get some sleep,” with the clever old refrain, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” But the negative effects of prolonged heavy caffeine use are real. Need more proof? The Mayo Clinic recommends that pregnant women reduce or eliminate their use of caffeine. We believe that puts it in a certain category.
So next time you mention getting a cup of coffee with a colleague and they say they don’t drink the stuff, don’t scoff. In the years since National Caffeine Awareness Month became recognized, more and more Americans are reassessing their intake of the famous energy-booster. We’d recommend jumping on that bandwagon, to the extent that you can.