How Coffee is Good For Your Brain

By Prachi / September 9, 2016

People resort to eating a lot of things to keep health in check. Coffee is said to be a major beverage, which helps energize human brain. However, there are both proponents and opponents of Coffee, as far as its impact on the brain is concerned. The disputes and difference of opinions notwithstanding, billions of women and men consume coffee everyday. Apart from drinking coffee, they also intake, caffeine in various forms. Caffeine exists in several energy drinks, Soft drinks, chocolates and many other foods and beverages.

Coffee

Impact of coffee on brain

Not everyone is aware about exact implications of drinking coffee on the brain, but that does not deter people from many age groups to sip several cups of coffee, either in steaming hot or cold form. The truth is the major ingredient in Coffee, namely caffeine works on the nerves and the brain and serves as a major stimulant. It induces alertness quite fast and people usually feel energetic on cold evenings and drab monsoon days after sipping a steaming cup of coffee.

[ Read: How Drinking Coffee Could Improve Your Health ]

Basics of caffeine

There are mainly two kinds of Coffee – Robusta coffee and Arabica coffee, the latter being more commonplace. In both the plants, a fair amount of caffeine is present. Chemically, caffeine is a bitter tasting white crystalline solid. It is an alkaloid with lots of nitrogen.

It is a stimulant and actually acts as the plant’s defense mechanism. The bitter taste of deters pests as well as hungry herbivores. While both tea and coffee plants contain caffeine, its amount in the latter is much more. The Caffeine from the beans has more flavour and aroma. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can be 80-175mg.

Impact of caffeine on brain and variations

While coffee is liked by plenty of people in your life, you will find the impact on each is not the same. For you a steaming cup of coffee may act as an energy booster or ideal solution to stay awake at late nights. However, you may find a friend or colleague sleeping peacefully even after gulping down a few cups after evening! It is related to your genetic setup eventually. Caffeine sensitivity is not same in every person. The enzyme CYP1A2 is responsible for metabolizing coffee in your liver and generation of this enzyme is based on your genetic structure.

When you drink coffee or consume caffeine in any other way, it hits the brain and then suppresses a neurotransmitter named adenosine. Its amount in body goes up with hours and after certain limit it gives your body the signal to hit the bed. As you sleep, the level of adenosine drops to previous levels. It basically controls attention, alertness, as well as sleep in the human body. When you drink caffeine laced drink it fights with adenosine. It makes adenosine less effective on nerves. At the same time, stimulating brain chemicals such as glutamate and dopamine flow freely-leading to energy surge and increased alertness.

Caffeine also boosts the adrenaline supply in the body, resulting in a heart rate hike. So, you tend to stay alert for longer. That explains why a lot of students resort to drinking coffee when studying or preparing for exams.

Caffeine intake also leads to surge in levels of serotonin which is known as a mood booster. So, when you are bogged down with worry and stress, drinking a hot cup of coffee actually helps in boosting the mood, even for a while. In some cases, drinking coffee helps relieve headaches and migraines in people.

What the studies indicate?

A number of studies have been carried out on the impact of drinking coffee on human brains and results have not been similar in all cases. It has been seen that elderly people fare better in mental function after drinking coffee, but their sharpness does not necessarily go up. While a number of studies have shown a long-term memory performance boost after in taking caffeine in some other studies have rubbished the claims.

Drinking the right type of coffee

You may not think much about what type of coffee you are in taking in most cases. However, to obtain maximum benefits from coffee, ensure you are drinking the right kind. You may utilize the following tips for this:

  • Avoid buying decaf coffee as it may sometimes contain mould.
  • Similarly, do not buy natural processed beans. It may contain bird faeces and debris owing to the way it is processed.
  • You may also decalcify your coffee machine with vinegar and it acts as natural anti-fungal agent.
  • Green coffee beans may also be contaminated with mould.

Drink coffee but in limits

While in taking caffeine through coffee or other foods is good for your brain stimulation, going overboard can be detrimental. When you gulp down several cups of coffee, maybe in your bid to get more alertness and discard drowsiness, your brain’s adenosine receptors get affected. If you keep on doing this, you will find you require more coffee to get the desired effects, leading to a dependency situation. Chronic coffee drinkers gradually develop tolerance for caffeine and it is a natural mechanism in the human body.

It is difficult to say how much coffee is good for your brain. It varies on factors like your age, health and several related factors. However, Scientists say on an average taking 4 cups of coffee is the healthy limit for an adult man or woman. For Pregnant women, this can be reduced though. The teens and adolescents may take 100 milligrams per day.

[ Read: How Many Cups of Coffee In A Day Is Healthy? ]

If you intake more than 500 milligrams of caffeine per day, the side effects can set in. These include dehydration, abnormal heart rhythms, dizziness, muscle tremors and stomach problems, etc. Above all, you will feel sleeping difficulty when you drink excess amounts of coffee. Besides, people addicted to caffeine, suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they try to discard the habit. These symptoms include fatigue, nervousness and irritability. So, it makes sense to stick to the safe drinking limits.