Caffeine is a natural stimulant that keeps the brain active. It is a naturally occurring compound can stimulate our brains and the nervous system. It does so by preventing the secretion of a sleep-inducing chemical called adenosine.
In doing so, the compound triggers the brain to remain active and alert.
It is interesting to note that caffeine is the only psychoactive drug that is legally sold worldwide without any regulations or restrictions. This is why it is the most accessible drug in comparison to cocaine, nicotine or other stimulants.
Although caffeine is associated with coffee beans, it has multiple other sources like seeds (cocoa beans), fruits (guarana berries) and nuts (kola nuts) found in the regions of Africa, South America and East Asia. As a whole, almost 60 plants are known to carry the brain stimulating compound called caffeine.
Still, coffee and tea remain the number one sources of caffeine for an average man.
Which Products Have Caffeine?
Caffeine is found in more products that you can imagine, from drinks, beverages to medicines, the energy booster has notoriously spread in all counters of the supermarket.
- Helps in boosting focus and energy.
- Reduces lethargy and enhances alertness.
- Helps in weight loss and increases metabolism.
A cup of tea or coffee can jumpstart anyone’s morning. This can be in any form, from decaffeinated coffee (it still has 3 percent of caffeine), black and green tea, to the many types of coffee.
Apart from this, many caffeinated culprits have sneaked up in your pantry without your knowledge. These include the cola and energy drinks, chocolate (the darker it is, the more caffeine it has); energy bars and anything else that has a tinge of coffee flavor or chocolate in it like yogurts, ice creams, puddings and even cereals!
That is not all; caffeine has also made its way into your medicine cabinet. The medicines for a migraine and headaches usually have caffeine as it falls under the category of CNS stimulant (Central Nervous System) that helps the brain keep its active mode on.
However, even medicines like cough syrup or diet, slimming pills and pills for energy and focus supplements have been known to contain caffeine in its ingredients.
Due to its ever-growing presence in our food, our caffeine intake might be crossing the recommended limit of 400 mg per day.
A high caffeine intake might not cause addiction but will make the brain immune to its super stimulating powers, making you irritable and jittery instead of refreshed after your umpteenth cup of coffee.
Were you surprised to see medicines as a common caffeinated product?
Your regular cups of caffeine might have drowned down the primary fact of caffeine: it is a psychoactive drug which is why it is bound to wind up in the concoction of many medicines and special supplements that are targeted at students and athletes that need them to aid their energy and focus.
Seven most common uses of caffeine supplements are:
- In painkillers to ease down the headaches and migraines
- In energy supplement to increase the energy boost required to improve athletic performance
- Dietary supplements to help in weight loss
- In focus pills that sharpen your mind and increases alertness
- In PMS medicines that relieve cramps
- The pills to reduce Alzheimer and Parkinson disease, the caffeine helps keep the mind active and prevents it from deteriorating down
- Caffeine pills also help to improve memory
While taking these supplements, you need to keep in mind these Three caffeine dosage considerations:
- Your caffeine consumption must not cross 400 mg a day
- 150-200 mg of caffeine is enough to cure fatigue and tiredness
- Headaches and mental focus usually requires 250 mg of caffeine per day
Now that you know all about the list of caffeinated products and some of its benefits, lets shed some light on the main question: how does caffeine work?
Caffeine helps activate our brain by working against its rival adenosine (the sleep-inducing chemical), that is naturally released in the body after we use up all the energy. This is why the more energy we use, the more adenosine it produces. As a result, the high-level of adenosine makes us tired and sleepy.
Since caffeine has a similar chemical structure to the adenosine, the deceptive compound takes the adenosine’s place in the body and blocks the sleep whisperer from getting stored in the brain receptors. Now that the adenosine is prevented from sending signals to the brain, the organ has no idea that it is time to sleep.
Thus, caffeine succeeds in keeping the mind awake.
The adenosine swimming in the blood then triggers the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline. This energy-boosting hormone intensifies our alertness and focus.
Furthermore, many people might tell you that they felt happy and uplifted after a cup of coffee. If you laughed at their confession then the jokes on you, for caffeine does play a part in keeping you happy.
How does it do that?
Caffeine stimulates the releases of a neurotransmitter called dopamine that causes the feeling of euphoria and ecstasy. Therefore, it is ‘good vibes’ only until the caffeine levels are high.
How long does caffeine work?
Although the effects of caffeine may vary from person to person, on an average:
- It takes about an hour for caffeine to activate your brain
- It takes around 4-6 hours for the caffeinated wakefulness to subdue
We have touched upon the fact that caffeine is a widely used psychoactive drug that is used in multiple medicines, from migraine pills to focus and weight loss supplements.at it can charge up the brain and energize our bodies by getting rid of sleepiness and boosting up productivity.
Two Potential Benefits and Uses of Caffeine
1. Caffeine for Mental Alertness
More than the aroma or the taste, millions reach for that cup of coffee to get that instant sense of wakefulness.
We know the caffeine stimulates the mind by blocking the adenosine from contacting the brain, which keeps the brain from going into sleep mode.
As a result, your active brain can:
- Have a longer attention span
- Give quicker reactions
- Easily remember more extended details, thus improving your memory
- Give a faster reflex action
- A more alert hand-eye coordination
- Concentrate and focus more on the tasks at hand
The overall impact of caffeine is a highly-charged and alert mind ready to power through the morning blues and gets rid of the afternoon slump.
2. Caffeine for Athletic Performance
It isn’t just the students or the cubicle dwellers that boast about the benefits of caffeine. Many athletes have joined the bandwagon of caffeine-lovers. They take it in the form of energy supplements, focus pills or basic caffeine pills that energize them.
It has been observed that caffeine intake before a strenuous training session or competition helps improve an athlete’s performance.
This is because:
- Caffeine provides athletes with a jolt of energy to kick-start their workout
- The adrenaline produced by caffeine helps their reflexes and motor skills
- Caffeine increases blood flow by expanding the blood vessels, and this prevents cramps and post-workout pains
- It helps in burning down calories and fats
Caffeine for Other Conditions:
Caffeine is not just a mental booster or an athletic performance enhancer; it is also used in many other medicines to help ease several health problems.
1. Weight Loss:
Many dietary supplements carry some amount of caffeine as it helps to boost up the metabolism in the body that allows burn down fats faster.
Caffeine usually partners up with painkillers to relieve pain especially migraines and headaches caused by stress.
The caffeine is known to expand the air passages in the bloodstreams which help asthma patients to breathe comfortably.
4. Low Blood Pressure (LBP):
The CNS stimulator is known to widen the blood vessels that improve the blood circulation and increases the blood pressure in LPB patients.
5. Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease:
The memory-boosting ability in caffeine helps lower the chances of memory loss.
Although caffeine is a psychoactive drug, it is not as addictive as the other drugs that fall under the category. You must not assume that in taking large amounts of caffeine will have harmful effects on the body.
A Seven Common side-effects of taking too much caffeine are:
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Frequent urination
- Problems during pregnancy
These mild symptoms usually intensify if your body becomes intolerant of the caffeine stimulations. This means that your body will stop reacting to caffeine positively and lure you to take more than you need. The adverse effects of high dosage will cause irritation and anxiety.
Can people be allergic to caffeine?
Yes, they can. Some people aren’t able to digest caffeine, or their bodies look at caffeine as a foreign invader tampering with the natural brain activity. However, caffeine allergy is very rare.
The people who are allergic to caffeine will experience the usual side-effects at a much faster rate than regular caffeine users.
How do we know we are allergic to caffeine?
Apart from the normal side-effects, the allergic reaction to caffeine will cause some physical symptoms.
- Itchiness inside and outside the mouth
- Swollen lips
Caffeine is probably the most used psychoactive drug. This is because not only is it legal but also a potent stimulant.
Due to its popularity, caffeine has been heavily researched by medicinal practitioners to observe the benefits and any harmful effects the drug intake can cause.
Research has proved that caffeine:
- Stimulates brain activity and makes the mind more alert and focused
- Boosts the overall energy in the body
- Increases heart rate and blood flow
- Removes the feeling of tiredness and drowsiness
- Increases metabolism rate
However, an exceeded amount of consumption can have damaging effects on the body. Once the body builds up a tolerance for caffeine, it will stop responding to its stimulating effects. You will start increasing your dosage which will only lead to irritation and restlessness.
Similarly, caffeine is wrongly misconceived as addictive. Research shows that caffeine addiction is mild in comparison to other drugs. This is because the amount of dopamine that the caffeine releases is not enough to cause any wiring problems in the brain.
The withdrawal symptoms faced after decreasing the regular amount of caffeine dosages like jitters and anxiety can be easily cured. They do not result in any known relapse.
All the caffeine research reviews and the experiences of avid coffee drinkers boil down to one fact that caffeine is a potent stimulator. It works only when you use it carefully (that is less than 200 mg at a then and not more than 400 mg a day).
Caffeine might be a legal hyperactive drug that possesses so many advantages but it does not mean that you should consume it as much as you want. It is recommended by experts to properly monitor your daily caffeine. Excess of caffeine can have serious health implications on your body such as increased heart rate and high blood pressure. These implications can also trigger other health conditions if the person already has them.
How Much Caffeine is too much?
If you are a healthy adult than consuming more than 400mg of caffeine per day is really excessive for you. However, this value of caffeine intake varies from person to person as every human body is different. For example a large male human who weighs nearly 250 pounds will certainly be able to consume more caffeine than a tiny female who weigh 110 pounds.
There are many caffeine dosage calculators available on the apps and even on some websites on the internet. You can determine your daily dosage by simply entering your bodyweight and then go ahead and consume it safely.
How Much Caffeine Can You Have In a Day?
Caffeine intake usually which varies according to the age and size of the human body. For example doctors advise to keep children under 4 years old away from caffeine. Children over 4 years old can however, safely consume around 45mg per day which they can acquire from sodas or chocolates. However, you need to make sure that children shouldn’t consume caffeine daily in order to stay healthy and active.
Healthy adults can safely consume between 300mg-400mg of caffeine on daily basis. However, this amount can also according to the weight of the human body. To understand it simply, you can safely drink up to 5 Red Bull energy drinks to fulfill your daily caffeine needs.
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