The smart way to drink coffee

One caffeine addict's take on coffee consumption in university

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Between Starbucks, Tim’s, CoGro and countless other on-campus outlets, it’s safe to say Queen’s students have infinite access to a variety of coffee beverages. While caffeine consumption isn’t inherently bad, poor coffee-drinking habits can certainly take a toll on a university student’s wellbeing.

As an admitted caffeine addict and Starbucks aficionado, it’s difficult for me to write anything even remotely critical about coffee. Also, studies show that in moderation, coffee is perfectly healthy – so I refuse to feel guilty about enjoying my venti blonde roast every morning.

However, an inexperienced coffee drinker and stressed out student has the potential to make some detrimental mistakes that could have a negative impact on their health. Here are some things to consider if you’re going to be drinking coffee on the regular.

While coffee studies are somewhat inconsistent, some researchers have found coffee to have a dehydrating effect on consumers. This effect is shown to be more prevalent in those who are new to drinking coffee, or those who are picking up the habit again after abandoning it for some time.

To be safe, make sure you’re balancing your coffee with a proper daily intake of water, especially if you’re drinking other dehydrating liquids – like alcohol – that same day.

Aside from dehydration, coffee can also lead to poor sleeping patterns. A study released this month by Statistics Canada identified caffeine consumption as one of the leading causes of insufficient and disrupted sleep among Canadians. Drinking coffee late in the evening or night may disrupt your slumber, especially if you don’t drink it all the time.

As a university student, getting the right quality and amount of sleep is everything. While caffeine does make you more alert, it’s by no means an alternative to sleep, so be sure to cut off your intake by the afternoon.

As well as causing dehydration and disrupting an appropriate sleep schedule, a strong caffeine intake can also hinder a healthy lifestyle. If you’re trying to follow a healthy diet, beware of high sugar and fat contents secretly hidden in some popular coffee-based beverages. While it may be obvious that a Frappuccino isn’t good for you, some of the more innocent-seeming coffee beverages can be misleadingly unhealthy.

The best thing you can do as a coffee drinker is drink it black. Not only does it allow you to appreciate the true flavours of coffee, but it also stops you from adding pesky sweeteners and creams that drive up your fat and sugar intake.

The last tip is obvious – as with most things, coffee is only good in moderation. Drinking too much can spike your nerves and make you feel anxious, so try and stick to one or two cups a day.

Coffee really is a wonderful thing, so don’t avoid it – just be smart about the way you drink it.

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