Coffee and Caffeine’s Effect to Our Brain

Caffeine promotes central nervous system stimulation, which helps people get alert by blocking adenosine in which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel sleepy and drowsy. Caffeine slows neural activity. 


Caffeine interacts with adenosine receptors in our brain.  Adenosine is a neurotransmitter which promotes sleep and adenosine normally builds up during the day.


 Caffeine and adenosine have a similar molecular structure. However, caffeine prevents adenosine from slowing us down. Caffeine promotes central nervous system stimulation and makes us feel alert.


Studies have shown that caffeine can boost brain function in the short term. Also, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system by promoting the release of other neurotransmitters, including noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. People may develop a tolerance to caffeine over time, which means you will need to consume more coffee than before to get the same effects.


Is Coffee Good For Our Brain?

Caffeine may improve our mood, reaction time, vigilance, attention, learning, general mental function.Coffee is a major source of antioxidants in the Western diet and coffee is associated with many health benefits, including a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and liver disease.


Coffee contains hundreds of bioactive compounds any of these compounds are antioxidants. And antioxidants can fight the damage caused by free radicals in your cells.

Light-to-moderate caffeine intake provides impressive health benefits in many people. However, high dosages of caffeine may lead to undesirable side effects on our health and the responses vary from person to person.


Caffeine works well to block the effects of adenosine in our brain and triggers the release of adrenaline simultaneously, which help boost our energy level. Thus, too much caffeine can potentially lead to anxiety and nervousness. Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder is one of four caffeine-related syndromes listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association.


Extremely high daily intakes of 1,000 mg or more per day have been reported to cause jitteriness and similar symptoms in most people, whereas a moderate intake may lead to similar effects in caffeine-sensitive individuals.


Some people experience rapid breathing and increase stress levels because of caffeine.One study in 25 healthy men found that those who ingested approximately 300 mg of caffeine experienced more than double the stress levels of those who took a placebo.


Coffee’s caffeine content is highly variable. A large (“grande”) coffee at Starbucks contains about 330 mg of caffeine. Look at your caffeine intake if you feel worse or more nervous after having a coffee. 


adenosine: 腺苷。腺苷是大腦中一種抑制性神經遞質,會使我們感到睡意。

bioactive compounds 生物活性化合物


What are important active ingredients in coffee? 

  1. Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance worldwide. 
  2. Chlorogenic acids (CGAs): Polyphenol antioxidants may benefit some biological pathways, such as blood-sugar metabolism and high blood pressure. 
  3. Cafestol and kahweol: Present in coffee’s natural oil, high amounts of cafestol and kahweolare are found in unfiltered coffee. They may be good for the liver and protect against cancer, but a high intake may raise LDL cholesterol.
  4. Trigonelline: This alkaloid compound is unstable at high heat. Trigonelline may also help prevent dental cavities by inhibiting bacterial growth. However, the amounts of these substances in a cup of coffee varies.  The type of coffee beans and how the beans are roasted affects the amounts of trigonelline in a cup of coffee. 


Coffee and caffeine may affect our memory

Researchers debate the effects of caffeine on long-term memory. Some studies have found that caffeine enhances short-term memory. Other studies report no effects on memory or have even found that caffeine impaired performance on memory tasks.


One small study found that caffeine may improve long-term memory when administered after learning.When the subjects consumed a caffeine tablet after studying a series of images, their ability to recognize these images 24 hours later was strengthened. Caffeine also appeared to make these memories more resistant to being forgotten, compared to the placebo group.


Coffee and Fatigue
Most people get a cup of coffee to counteract fatigue so as to feel more energized and awake. Researches have shown caffeine may suppress feelings of fatigue. However, the energy boost only lasts for a certain amount of time. Then you desire another cup of coffee again. Consume large amounts of caffeine in the late afternoon or evening can potentially disrupt your sleep at night. 


Coffee May Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s generally starts slowly but gets severe over time. Alzheimer’s causes memory loss, couples with thinking and behavior problems.

Coffee and Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system, which is characterized by the death of nerve cells in the brain that secrete dopamine.  Consuming moderate amounts of coffee may protect against Parkinson’s disease. 


When consumed in moderation, coffee can be good for our brain, which may protect against brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Moderation intake of coffee is the key.  Excessive consumption of caffeine can potentially cause anxiety, jitters, heart palpitations. Higher doses of caffeine can actually be counterproductive by causing brain fog. (Reference

Also, some people are sensitive to caffeine. Children, teenagers and pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake. 


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