I’m 13 years old and I drink coffee every single day in the morning and sometimes later in the day. Is it okay for me to drink coffee being so young or will it cause any problems?
I would not recommend drinking coffee at your age. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a drug. Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug and an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. It is most commonly consumed by people in infusions extracted from the seed of the coffee plant. Science has established that caffeine has numerous physiological and psychological effects on the central nervous system (CNS). It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier where it blocks the relaxing neurotransmitter adenosine by binding to its receptors on the surface of cells without activating them. By doing so, caffeine “excites” the nervous system and has shown to numb the pain, increase heart rate and stimulate the release of adrenal hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol).
Many kids don’t understand the fact that the caffeine in their coffee is an actual drug. The huge marketing budgets of many of the top coffee companies push “fun and tasty” drinks that are jam-packed with sugar, fat and calories. When kids go into a coffee shop and order that triple mocha or other sweet coffee drink, the biggest reason why these kids are choosing these drinks is mainly because of the super sweet and satisfying taste. These are basically desserts wrapped in liquid form. Some of the most popular coffee drinks contain more fat and calories than a cheeseburger and French fries! The sugar content is so high in many of these drinks that it far exceeds the recommended number of spoonfuls of sugar per day. Many nutritionists point out the fact that these liquid calories that kids are consuming on a daily basis are one of the many factors leading to the childhood obesity problem in the world today.
When kids can consume as much as 1,200 calories from a large specialty coffee drink in a matter of minutes, this wreaks havoc on their bodies due to the excess fat and huge amounts of sugar contained in them. Add this to the kid’s regular meals and there is usually a huge surplus of calories being consumed on a daily basis when compared to the basic calories needed for their BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is what nutritionists refer to as “mindless eating” and is a huge issue with children simply engulfing food, soda and other sugary drinks throughout the day without consciously thinking about what they are actually putting into their mouths.
I recommend cutting out the coffee and switching to water for your drink of choice. If you desire a hot beverage that is sweet, try a decaf herbal tea and add some Stevia or all natural honey to sweeten it up. Along with avoiding coffee, I highly recommend cutting out sugary sodas and processed fruit juices. One small can of your favorite soda can contain as much as 50 grams of sugar and over 200 calories. As mentioned above, these are liquid calories with very little nutritional value. If you love fruit juice then ask your parents to purchase a juicer and make 100% fresh squeezed juice. There is no comparison between the taste of pure orange juice that you have made yourself versus the store-bought orange juice that is canned or in a juice box packed with tons of extra sugar. If you don’t like plain water, then add some fresh lemon juice and Stevia to make an all natural sugar-free lemonade drink.
There are so many options for you to help kick your coffee and soda habit, so please look into several of the tips I have included above and have fun making new and tasty beverages. The bottom line is that you want to make sure you start following a diet that includes very little processed foods and drinks. If you start eating 100% whole foods and natural drinks now, you will be able to live a much healthier life as you get older.