Do you know the biology of coffee? Chances are, you start your day with coffee. You’re not the only one of course. Many, many people around the world usually start their days with this hot beverage. This beverage of choice, coffee, is the most popular drink in most parts of the world these days. Just in the US alone, Americans drink 3 times as much coffee as tea!
But what exactly is in coffee, do you know?
Is coffee actually beneficial or harmful for us?
On that note, how exactly does it affect each of us?
Read on to learn more about the biology of coffee, as well as its effects and impact on our health, and mind.
Biology of coffee – what is in coffee?
Caffeine and antioxidants are the main active ingredients in coffee. We can nearly always count on a cup of coffee to wake us up, and that’s because caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. In fact, it is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug!
The reaction of caffeine is also why decaffeinated coffee isn’t that great of a perk-me-up.
How coffee affects your body
Drinking too much coffee can leave you feeling jittery or sleepless. Postponing fatigue for long can cause the body’s regulatory system to fail, leading to complications like jitters.
Serious effects like anxiety or insomnia can also develop over time.
There’s a possible link between coffee drinking and insomnia which was identified more than a hundred years ago.
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Different effects of caffeine
Different people respond differently to caffeine. There are those who can’t process caffeine – in their case drinking coffee can be hazardous to health.
That said, how we respond to caffeine depends on genetics, our past coffee consumption habits, and even random chance.
Why coffee keeps you awake
Have you heard of Adenosine? It is a chemical that promotes sleep. It is naturally present in all human cells. The caffeine in coffee acts as an adenosine receptor antagonist, which means it blocks the adenosine from binding to its receptor.
This process is ultimately what stops the body’s natural ability to rest when it’s tired and why coffee keeps you awake.
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Potential benefits of coffee
A study involving rats discovered that caffeine produced smooth muscle contraction. Hence, there is a possibility that caffeine can directly promote bowel activity.
Another study showed that decaffeinated coffee can have a strong effect on bowel activity, just like regular coffee does. This suggests that some of the other molecules in coffee might have a more complex mechanism.
Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation. Metabolic processes in our body create waste in the form of oxidized molecules or free radicals, and these can be harmful to our cells. Therefore, the antioxidants in coffee protect our cells against the effects of free radicals. Our body has its own antioxidant defences as part of the metabolic balance.
That said, it is unclear whether taking antioxidant supplements can augment our body’s natural defences.
There is also some evidence that drinking coffee may help in preventing cancer and other diseases. A 1990 study in Japan indicated that consuming coffee fights cancer in rats. A 2015 study showed that coffee drinking is associated with lower rates of some cancers in humans. Not only that, but coffee consumption was also linked to a lower rate of Parkinson’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Higher coffee consumption was also associated with lower rates of Type 2 diabetes.
As you have learned by now, coffee can be helpful or harmful based on your own health, genetics, consumption habits, etc. So it’s never as simple as accepting coffee to be good for absolutely everyone, nor is the opposite true.
Understanding the biology of coffee, namely the active ingredients and effects of those on the human body, can help you make better choices when it comes to your own coffee habits.
What are your thoughts on the biology of coffee? Do you believe it does you more good than harm or the opposite? Why do you drink coffee?
Share your thoughts and notes in the comments section below.
Enjoy your Monday!
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