Coffee is the most popular drink worldwide with around two billion cups consumed every day – and 66 per cent of Europeans rely on it as their morning wake-up. But what does it actually do to your body?
The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) has launched a simple animated video to explain just that.
Extensive research has shown beneficial effects of caffeine in our diet, like improved attention, alertness and physical performance – but it’s not all good.
Coffee is a chemical juggernaut, quickly absorbed and distributed throughout the body, affecting everything from brainpower and eyesight to digestion. However you take yours, coffee affects your entire system.
As the video explains, the brain’s adenosine receptor acts as a central nervous system depressant and promotes feelings of tiredness. But since the caffeine in your coffee has a similar structure, it can bind to the adenosine receptors, acting as an imposter and blocking the actions of adenosine, leading to feelings of alertness.
Research suggests (and we all already assumed) that coffee and caffeine may improve alertness in situations which require sustained concentration, like long distance driving, and also improves performance in people who work shifts or are suffering from jet lag.
Within 20 minutes of drinking coffee, the caffeine causes adrenaline to be released, activating your ‘fight or flight mode’. As a result, your pupils dilate slightly and you might actually have sharper vision, the Telegraph reports.
But don’t drink it on an empty stomach – having your coffee before eating stimulates hydrochloric acid production. This can be a problem because HCl should only be produced to digest meals.
If your body has to make HCl more often in response to regular cups of coffee, it may have difficulty producing enough to deal with a large meal – which can wreak havoc with your digestive tract.
Many of the compounds in coffee like caffeine and the various acids found in coffee beans can also irritate your stomach and the lining of your small intestine,, the Daily Star reports. So if you suffer from ulcers, gastritis, IBS or Crohn’s disease, you may want to see your GP before continuing your daily coffee spree.
But if you’re healthy, drinking coffee in moderation can definitely be a good thing.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) advises that caffeine intakes from all sources up to 400 mg per day (the equivalent of up to five cups of coffee) and single doses of 200mg do not raise safety concerns for adults in the general population.