For us coffee enthusiasts, caffeine has been a large part of our lives whether we want it to or not. With that in mind, it’s prudent we know as much as we can about it. That’s why today we put all those myths to rest with facts.
By now, you probably know that caffeine has been credited as the active stimulant in coffee. So where exactly does it come from? Caffeine is naturally produced by plants such as coffee beans, guarana, cacao beans, tea among others. It serves to protect the plant from insects by paralyzing or killing them. Luckily on us, the effect is totally different. Caffeine is responsible for lack of sleep that comes after taking a big cup of coffee. On top of that, caffeine in moderate amounts is known to improve mental ability, memory, reaction times as well as sharpen reasoning skills. Caffeine has also been known to reduce the risk of type II diabetes.
Let’s start off by looking at how our brain our works. The human brain is made of millions of neurons that transmit pulses which are then relayed as information. As your neurons work through the day, a neurochemical called adenosine builds up in the body as a byproduct. This chemical is closely monitored by your nervous system via receptors. As adenosine passes through the receptors throughout the day, the nervous system starts slowing down cell activity thus inducing sleep in a bid to avoid toxic levels of the chemical in the body.
Caffeine on the other hand works like a mimic since it looks like adenosine in shape, size and chemical makeup. Once consumed it stealthily enters the adenosine receptors and clogs them without activating them. It particular targets the brain’s A1 receptors and blocks them. This in turn disrupts the whole nervous system as other body-produced stimulants namely; dopamine and glutamate remain freer to do as they please without having to answer to the receptors. With increased dopamine levels, this in turn leads to an elevated feeling that coffee is well-known for. On top of that, recent studies have shown that increased dopamine eves may trigger the pituitary gland to release adrenaline and we all know how that works. In short, caffeine works as a door to keep parents locked in the house while the children do as they please outside.
Luckily, the effect is short-lived since the body will break down caffeine in 3 to 5 hours. On top of that, it’s not known to negatively affect other brain functions or concentration. However, continued intake leads to a tolerance that will require you to take more for the same effect.
In a word, yes. Depending on how much you take and for how long you’ve been taking it. The most common symptoms for coffee withdraw are headaches, drowsiness and even loss of concentration. In high does, it’s been known to cause anxiety and in some rare cases panic attacks. An average cup contains roughly 100mg of caffeine and caffeine is only lethal when taken in at around 13-19 grams for an adult. As long as you take into account its long term effects and take early measures, you should be able to enjoy a cup every once in a while.