A COMPLETE GUIDE TO CAFFEINE: WHAT IT IS, WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT AND HEALTH BENEFITS
For millions of people worldwide, caffeine is their feel-good morning elixir.
Many of us live for that first sip, enjoying it with eyes half-shut. Our senses immerse in the strength,
aroma and richness of flavors, while slowly starting to wake up.
Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast or a tea drinker, chances are - caffeine is your favorite pick-me-up.
Stick around to learn all there is to know about this potent compound, its health benefits and why it’s the most popular stimulant in the world.
WHAT IS CAFFEINE AND HOW DOES IT WORK IN THE BODY?
Caffeine is an alkaloid chemical compound found in the leaves, seeds and nuts of over 60 plant species. Other than in coffee beans, caffeine is also present in kola nuts, guarana, cocoa beans, tea leaves, yerba maté , and yaupon holly.
Inarguably the most widely spread stimulant in the world, it’s mainly consumed through coffee, but also other food items like teas, sodas, energy drinks, and cocoa.
The main role of caffeine in the body is to speed up the process of waking up, but also to help you stock up on energy and increase alertness.
Caffeine affects the cardiovascular system, the nervous system and the brain; hence why some people experience higher blood pressure, faster heartbeat, sharper focus and energy bursts.
HOW DOES CAFFEINE WORK?
The human metabolism needs around 10 minutes to distribute caffeine throughout the body. Its effects reach the peak point around 45 minutes post-consumption.
The way caffeine works has to do with its striking similarity to adenosine , a neurotransmitter that your body produces to signal tiredness and sleepiness.
Nerve cells are unable to tell the difference between the two, so caffeine easily binds with adenosine receptors, blocking their function. This clears the path for hormones like dopamine and glutamate, responsible for good mood and upsurge of energy.
The result is immediate alertness, improved brain activity, boost of energy and in some cases sleep disturbances.
Like with anything, moderation is key in caffeine consumption. Just like coffee can make you wide awake, it can also cause a terrible caffeine crash.
When caffeine blocks adenosine, it causes a build-up in the receptors. As soon as the effects of caffeine wear off, the receptors are free to transmit again and adenosine is the first in line. Soon after, you’ll get drowsy, sleepy and tired, even if you haven’t done anything strenuous.
The worst thing you can do in this case is to chug more coffee. Let your body balance out its hormones and you’ll be up and running in no time.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE GET COFFEE JITTERS AND OTHERS DON’T? If you’ve ever had more than 3 cups of coffee, you’re probably very familiar with
LINK TO ARTICLE ABOUT COFFEE JITTERS HERE] . This is your body reacting to too much caffeine. Your nervous system is overloaded with energy that doesn’t have anywhere to go. Your heart beats
faster, pumping more blood into the brain, which leads to lightheadedness.
Based on how well your metabolism processes caffeine, you belong to one of 3 sensitivity levels:
● Oversensitivity - Your body is unable to metabolize caffeine properly. As a result, you experience symptoms like insomnia, extreme jitters, heart palpitations and dizziness. If coffee makes you feel bad, try green or black tea. If your symptoms don’t improve, consider eliminating caffeine completely.
● Normal sensitivity - Your body can metabolize caffeine without negatively affecting your health. By consuming moderate amounts of caffeine (200-400 mg per day), you feel the desired effects such as alertness, more energy and focus, but not the jitters or other side-effects.
● Hyposensitivity - Your body metabolizes caffeine quickly and with no noticeable changes in your body and nervous system. You can consume larger amounts of caffeine without issues, but may not feel its effects. Note that caffeine in very large doses can be toxic for your metabolism, so always make your health a priority.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND CAFFEINE?
Though coffee is the best-known source of caffeine, it’s not the only one. Black, green, oolong and white tea naturally contain caffeine, though in smaller amounts.
According to Mayo Clinic, 1 cup of regular coffee has 95-165 mg of caffeine. A 1oz shot of espresso contains 47-64 mg and 1 cup of instant coffee contains about 63 mg of caffeine.
For comparison, 1 cup of brewed black tea contains anywhere from 25-48 mg of caffeine. One cup of brewed green tea contains 25-29 mg.
Herbal and fruit teas are completely caffeine-free.
Cocoa is another source of caffeine with 230 mg per 1 cup of dry cocoa powder. When diluted with water or milk, this amount is insignificant. Dark chocolate with high cocoa percentage may show higher amounts of caffeine, but it’s much lower compared to coffee. You may find caffeine in some over-the-counter medication and dietary supplements, so if you’re sensitive to the compound, make sure to check the labels.
Some colas, energy drinks and protein energy bars may also contain caffeine.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CAFFEINE?
When taken in moderation, the positive effects of caffeine are not limited to waking you up in the morning and sharpening your focus. This compound is a powerful stimulant that affects the nervous, digestive and cardiovascular systems.
Some of the many health benefits of caffeine include:
● Improved mood and cognitive function.
● Reduced risk of heart disease.
● Lower risk of Diabetes Type II.
● Reduced risk of oral cancer.
● Reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.
● Aid in weight loss and fat burning.
● Improved exercise performance.
● Reduced risk of liver cancer.
GET YOUR DAILY CAFFEINE FIX WITH STRÄVA CRAFT COFFEE!
We at Sträva Craft Coffee are passionate about roasting our beans to perfection to give you a rich and smooth cup of premium quality coffee.
Author Bio: Frosina is a freelance writer for hire specializing in lifestyle, health and wellness topics. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her savoring new coffees, learning all about digital marketing and dreaming of Italy. You can learn more about Frosina at www.figsproutcreative.com, on
LinkedIn and Twitter.
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