Caffeine is the liquor used by the masses on a daily basis because it increases wakefulness, alleviates fatigue and contributes to improving the focus and concentration, making people become more present in their activities. After all, caffeine is definitely the most consumed drug in the world. Looking on the bright side of things, when consumed in low to moderate doses, caffeine is generally safe and offers great health benefits. On the other hand, the long-term caffeine intake turns it into a potential risk factor that triggers certain health problems.
So, what’s the answer to the big question- Is caffeine good or bad for the brain?
It all depends on how your brain reacts to it. Most people feel happier and even more alert, clear headed and more focused, energetic, productive and euphoric after a dose of caffeine.
Others become irritable, anxious, have headaches or develop a risk of panic attack after drinking a cup of coffee.
It is just a matter or inherited biological individuality. It is also true that most people who consume coffee on a regular basis tend to become easily addicted.
What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain
The thing is that caffeine is not a typical stimulant and that’s pretty surprising. It does not directly help the brain cells wake up, nor to work better. It rather acts indirectly. Instead of triggering the release of “refreshing” chemicals, it blocks the action of the neurotransmitter called adenosine, which generally commands the brain to calm down and fall asleep.
Because the caffeine molecule resembles adenosine, it can enter the brain cell receptor, substituting it. Thus, it prevents adenosine from suppressing the enthusiasm of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Therefore, caffeine disguised in adenosine tricks the brain cells, causing them to remain in a permanent state of excitability.
Not much coffee is needed to achieve this effect. According to specialists, the caffeine in two cups of coffee can destroy the adenosine receptors in the brain for two hours, maintaining the brain alert.
Can caffeine improve memory?
That’s not a certain thing, but there is some evidence that memory may benefit from caffeine. A recent study that included 9,000 consumers, showed that those who drank more coffee had achieved better results at a number of cognitive tests, which aimed the reaction time, verbal memory and spatial and visual orientations, compared to non-users of caffeine.
The Health Risks of Consuming Caffeine
Before rushing into the kitchen to make yourself another coffee, only because you think that the one you drunk in the morning was not enough, think again. Try to explore all the potential risks that caffeine assumes. There are plenty of studies that demonstrate the potentially harmful effects of long-term excessive caffeine consumption.
- Depression – Caffeine can indirectly affect your mood, especially if you are one of those people who are particularly sensitive to its effects or if you tend to exaggerate with its consumption.
- Hypertension – Caffeine blocks the hormone that makes the arteries become relaxed and dilated, which can lead to a dramatic increase in your blood pressure.
- Blood Sugar – If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, there is an increased chance for your blood sugar levels to rise, since caffeine causes an impact on insulin action. 250 mg of caffeine (2 to 2 1/2 cups) of plain coffee a day causes this effect.
- Insomnia – Consuming caffeine 3 or even 6 hours before bedtime, can significantly affect your sleep.
- Headaches – Caffeine consumption can turn into a modest risk factor for daily headache onset, no matter the headache type.