How Does Caffeine Affect the Brain and Body?

Each food you eat in your daily diet can have effects on the body (the effect can occur either in short-term or/and in long-term) – including for caffeinated beverages. Caffeine can affect some parts of your body, such as the brain. The way of you consume this stimulant can significantly affect the health advantages or disadvantages you will get. Furthermore, the effect varies from person to person, because some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others.

How does caffeine affect the brain?

As well we know, caffeinated beverages are one of the most popular beverages. In the U.S, coffee is the most common caffeinated beverages consumed.

About 75 percent of the adult intake for caffeine comes from coffee. But nowadays, energy drinks loaded with caffeine are increasing popular among younger adults which may reduce the domination of coffee in the future.

How long it takes for the effects of caffeine appear and disappear?

In general, the effects can be almost similar to those of other stimulants. It can make you more alert due to it can speed up your brain activity.

The effect can occur about 15 minutes or less after you consume it, according to Harvard Medical School. And typically, the effect will completely disappear about 6 hours or more after it enters into your body.

What are the effects and how do they occur?

Caffeine you consume will get absorbed in the digestive system. Once it absorbed, it then will go into the bloodstream and then will be distributed to other parts of the boy, including your brain.

In the blood, about 30-45 minutes after it is ingested, it reaches its peak level – and then will decrease gradually until it remains in very small amounts about 8-10 hours later. Its level in the blood decreases gradually as it gets metabolized in your liver.

This stimulant may have multiple effects in the brain. While some of these effects may help improve the health of the brain, others may be bad.

One of the major concerns is about the effect of caffeine on adenosine receptors (a kind of brain chemical that can dampen your brain activity).

Parkinson’s disease is a kind of brain disease that affects certain parts of the brain. The parts of the brain affected by this disease usually have more adenosine receptors.

image_illustration70And the effects of adenosine receptors in the brain can be hogged by caffeine. As a result, your neurons will work more active than usual.

For this reason, some experts theorize that moderately consumption of this stimulant seems to have good effect in reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Pros and cons of ‘short-term and long-term effects’ of caffeine

In short-term, it can improve the short-term memory by activating the frontal lobes of the brain – according to a study conducted by the Medical University Innsbruck in Austria, presented in 2005.

It also can trigger adenoside receptors to work more active in triggering adrenal glands of the body to produce more adrenaline. This mechanism can trigger the brain ready to defend and make you become very alert (you are more likely to be able to work faster).

But its effect to the brain in long term may not be as good as its effect in short-term.

According to a research published in the Biochemical Biophysical Research Communication Journal, 2005, caffeine may slow the function of hippocampus (an important part of the brain that is crucial to control the ability of long-term memory and learning).

How does caffeine affect other parts of the body?

This stimulant can affect blood pressure. But it also can act as ‘water pill’, and this can raise urine flow. However, some people who are very sensitive to caffeine may experience dehydration, particularly if this stimulant is drunk before or during exercise.

But typically it doesn’t cause dehydration in people who get used in drinking it regularly, even when they drink it during a moderate exercise. But to keep safe, drinking caffeine before or during exercise should be avoided!

In short term, this stimulant also can increase the levels of your insulin, homocysteine, and even possibly bad cholesterol (LDL). It also can make your blood vessel stiffer. These bad short-term effects should be concerned as well.

The effects of cigarette smoking and birth control pills on your caffeine metabolism

Chewing tobacco or cigarette smoking can speed up the caffeine metabolism. This means that the time for caffeine to circulate in the body through blood stream decreases.

On the other hand, the use of oral contraceptive can make it slower, which means there will be more time for caffeine to circulate in the body.

But for women who are taking birth control pills, they have to avoid smoking. The combination of birth control pills and cigarette smoking can put you at greater risk of developing blood clots which then can be potential to cause a heart attack or stroke.

The amounts of caffeine you can drink safely

Now you know that caffeine is not always bad for your body, but it’s also not always good for your health.

In fact, it also can lead to a temporarily sudden increase in blood pressure, though this effect also can vary from person to person, as noted before. People who get used with drinking caffeinated beverages may not experience a significant increase in their blood pressure.

But if you have hypertension (high blood pressure), your doctor may ask you to restrict caffeinated beverages. Overall, to keep safe, it’s much better to drink it in moderation (make sure your body can tolerate the amounts of caffeine you drink) or follow the instruction from your doctor if you have certain health condition that can interfere with caffeine, such as hypertension.

In most healthy adults, 2-4 cups of brewed coffee per day or about 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day are commonly considered safe and not harmful – according to Mayo Clinic.

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