Stunting the Stigma

Is caffeine the true victim in the story of defamed drinks?


Gavin Van De Wall

With a little help from a Red Bull or coffee, you’ll be energized for any task in sight.

Connor Smith, Staff Writer

For years, caffeine has been at the forefront of many conspiracies and false accusations. Slandered by parents, coffee is labeled as a dangerous substance — at least for teenagers. Typically, we are told to stay away from coffee because the caffeine will either stunt our growth, disrupt sleep, or develop into an addiction.

But caffeine — an energy-boosting supplement — receives way more hate than it deserves. 

Caffeine actually occurs naturally in some foods, including certain fruits.  The Federal Drug Administration recommends around 400 milligrams of caffeine per day at maximum, which is the equivalent to around two or three cups of coffee or two energy drinks.

I’ll agree with your parents: Daily overconsumption does have its pitfalls. It does have the potential to lead to a few scary side effects including irregular heartbeat, glucose control, and general energy levels being inconsistent throughout the day. All in all, though, if you can monitor your levels, caffeine actually is a great way to start your day.

Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it sends pulses to your central nervous system. It’s basically a slap in the face, screaming at you to wake up and be productive. Your brain then receives that information and gets the cogs turning for about a three-to-four hour period, depending on how much you consume and how hastily you consume it.

The fact that energy drinks have become mainstream indicates the extent to which people enjoy caffeine, as it boosts almost everything the average person needs in a day.

Additionally, coffee can be used to stimulate weight loss. Caffeine suppresses the appetite and reduces the desire to eat. It also activates thermogenesis within the body. In simpler terms, caffeine makes your body warmer, which creates more energy when your body consumes food, boosting metabolism and encourages weight loss.

The more obvious upside of caffeine is the mental alertness and overall function your body gains after consuming it. Just a 100 milligram dose can instantly improve speed reasoning, brain processing, and memory retention.

For you science people, caffeine does this by intercepting the adenosine receptors in the brain. It then uses polyphenol antioxidants to stimulate the brain and cause faster and more efficient functions. Drinking a cup of coffee can help enhance thinking skills and slow mental decline as the mind ages.

My personal favorite use for caffeine, though, is sports performance. Caffeine is rampant in the sports world, as it activates fast and explosive movements. In order to make your brain function consistently and quickly over long periods of time, sip on a cup an hour before you hit the gym.

Sports like baseball, hockey, and soccer all have reported caffeine usage during games and practices. No wonder these sports use caffeine, as it improves overall endurance capacity and performance. 

Weightlifting and short-term cardio are also some great places to use caffeine, as the body will speed up metabolism, causing more weight loss and muscle gains during longer, sustained workouts.

Of course, caffeine does entail risks, and I’m not going to breeze over those just to fit my narrative. The biggest risks from consistent caffeine consumption are blood sugar levels, insomnia, and depression.

All of these side effects can be avoided, though, by being smart about your consumption. If there is one takeaway, it is to make sure you only consume the daily recommended intake. 

And one more thing, don’t take caffeine past dinnertime hours, as this can lead to irritability the next morning, as well as a loss of sleep.

Since caffeine is a great source of energy for teenagers and adults trying to get an edge during school and workdays, those false narratives should be dismantled, especially by those nagging parents.  I use caffeine almost every day and can confidently say that I have had nothing but positive changes to my attitude and daily life.

So the next time you pick up a Bang energy at your local Target, don’t let your mom tell you the caffeine will stunt your growth. 

Oh, and by the way, the cup of joe I just downed helped me write this article.