I once said “I feel naked without a coffee cup in my hand” … and being a grad student, I always feel I can justify it.
… but what do we really know about caffeine?
2737 BC, CHINA : Chinese Emperor Shen Nung boiled drinking water and leaves from a nearby bush, the first pot of tea
9th century, ETHIOPIA : shepherd began consuming wild coffee berries after observing that his goats had increased energy after eating them
1800’s : introduction of soft drinks; Dr. Pepper, followed by Coca-Cola and then Pepsi-Cola
What’s in a name?
Caffeine is common name for ” 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine “
The term “coffee” is derived from kaffee (german) + cafe (french)
Caffeine is consumed as: 1) Coffee – 71% 2) Soft drinks – 16% 3) Tea – 12%
After you ingest caffeine, it is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream and becomes metabolized in the liver. *90% of caffeine (from 12oz coffee) is cleared from the stomach in 20mins!
Once absorbed, caffeine (an adenosine receptor antagonist) inhibits the central nervous system, causing any sleepy-effects of the adenosine neurons to stop, and things start to “speed up”!
Impact on Health
With moderate consumption (<400mg/day) available research shows that caffeine is associated with (get ready, it’s a big list!):
- reduced fatigue / increased endurance / decreased effort (*by enhancing motor unit sensitivity)
- improved neuromuscular coordination (i.e. driving reaction times, staying in the lines)
- increased cerebral blood flow
- increased alertness, concentration, wakefulness, reaction time, working short term memory
- improved mood and decreased hostility (well, duh!)
- reduced onset / severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms
- protection against DNA damage from UV radiation
- weight reduction (*green tea)
- 28-35% lower risk of developing type-II diabetes with 4-6cups coffee/day (compared to <2cups/day)
- increased blood pressure, headache, drowsiness, anxiety, nausea if consuming >400mg/day
- disturb sleep patterns, and may impair normal development in children
- high-sugar beverages, and therefore increased weight gain and cavities
- conflicting results regarding its effect on: fetal growth, birth weight, and fertility
- inconsistent findings on link between cardiovascular health (esp. coronary heart disease, stroke) and caffeine consumption
- controversial association to decreased risk for ovarian and breast cancers
So, to caffeinate or not to caffeinate is up to you… but don’t worry, it’s not toxic until the 101st daily cup! much love.