Is coffee good for the brain?

Is coffee good for the brain?


Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Several studies have examined its health effects, both immediate and long-term. Moderate coffee consumption is reportedly associated with health benefits, including a reduced risk of pre- diabetes and liver disease . The researchers also looked at the effect of caffeine on the brain and the results look quite promising in regards to cognitive processes.

The Active Principles of Coffee

Coffee contains hundreds of bioactive compounds that contribute to its potential health benefits. Many of these compounds are  antioxidants  , which fight damage caused by damaging free radicals in cells . Here are the most important active ingredients of coffee

  • Caffeine. Main active ingredient of coffee, able to stimulate the central nervous system .
  • Chlorogenic acids. Polyphenolic antioxidants which contribute effectively in blood sugar metabolism  and hypertension .
  • Trigonelline. Alkaloid unstable at high temperatures and during roasting forms nicotinic acid , also known as niacin ( vitamin B3 ).

    Coffee and Brain

    Caffeine affects the central nervous system ( CNS ) in different ways, especially in relation to how caffeine interacts with the receptors for adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep . Neurons in the brain have specific receptors that adenosine can bind to. When it binds to those receptors, it inhibits the tendency of neurons to fire. This slows down neural activity.

    Caffeine and adenosine have a similar molecular structure. So when caffeine is present in the brain, it competes with adenosine for binding to the same receptors. However, caffeine does not slow down the firing of neurons the way adenosine does. Caffeine promotes stimulation of the central nervous system, helping to keep you alert and awake.

    Brain functions stimulated by Caffeine

    Caffeine can increase resting brain entropy. An increase in resting cerebral entropy highlights increased information processing capacity. Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system by stimulating the release of norepinephrine , dopamine and serotonin , all neurotransmitters.

    Caffeine can improve various aspects of brain function, such as mood, reaction time , alertness, learning ability, attention span . It must be remembered that by consuming caffeine regularly, one could develop a sort of habituation , that tolerance to caffeine over time which dulls strength . This means that you may need to consume more coffee than before to get the same effects. It should be stressed, however, that it is not recommended to exceed the consumption of caffeine: about 400 milligrams per day to avoid potentially dangerous or adverse side effects.

    Coffee and Memory

    Coffee and caffeine can also affect memory. Some studies suggest that caffeine can have a significant positive effect on both short- and long-term memory, strengthening the ability to recognize images, and making memories sharper and more memorable.

    Coffee and Neurodegenerative Diseases

    In the short term, coffee may improve mood , alertness, learning and reaction time, and in the long term, it may protect against brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Alzheimer’s disease causes memory loss, as well as cognitive and behavioral problems. Diet -related factors can influence the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Observational studies have associated regular and moderate coffee consumption with up to a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, although the correlation is still being studied in depth.

    Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. It is characterized by the death of nerve cells in the brain that secrete dopamine and are important for muscle movement . Parkinson’s primarily affects movement and often includes tremors . Some studies show that coffee may help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, with a 29% lower risk of developing the disease. The caffeine contained in coffee appears to be the active ingredient capable of exerting these protective effects.

    When it is good to limit the consumption of caffeine

    In the consumption of coffee, and more generally of caffeine, however, any adverse reactions to overdose must be considered. Moderation is essential, even in cases of tolerance to the active ingredients and the absence of contraindications. When consumed in excess, caffeine can cause anxiety , nervousness , heart palpitations , and sleep problems. Some people are sensitive to caffeine, while others can drink several cups a day without side effects. Having said that, some people need to essentially limit their caffeine intake, such as children, adolescents, hypertensive subjects, with gastrointestinal disorders (caffeine causes an increase in gastric acid synthesis), prostate problems, and pregnant and breastfeeding women , as caffeine can also cross the placenta  and can be present in  breast milk .

    Coffee consumption is one of the causes of dry mouth upon waking .

    Also, coffee can sometimes make you nauseous .



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