Many of us cannot start the day without our coffee to kick start the body and brain:

Well before we start Let me explain a few terminology I will use:

Caffeine: Is a simulant which temporarily improves either our mental or physical performance or both. For example, it may make you more alert and energetic.

Adenosine: Is a brain chemical that stops the release of dopamine and adrenaline, which are natural stimulants. You could say that when a lot of Adenosine is released, it causes us to become sleepy.

Dopamine: The body makes adrenalin from dopamine.

Adrenalin: Is a hormone that is released in our body when we are under stress in order to prepare us for exertion- fight or flight syndrome.

How it all works.

It is a well-known fact that caffeine gives us a mental and physical boost. It does this by blocking the body’s receptors for adenosine (see above).

What happens is that caffeine (which is a stimulant) blocks the receptors for adenosine – you could say that it stops adenosine from being released. The result of less adenosine activity is that the levels of dopamine and adrenalin increase, which leaves us feeling more alert and motivated.

The bad thing is that the more caffeine we consume, the more insensitive our body and brain becomes to our natural stimulants and we need more of it to make us feel normal again… and so a nasty cycle begins because as we drink more and more caffeine to feel normal, we keep pushing our bodies to produce more and more stimulants which eventually leads to adrenal exhaustion. Our body then cannot produce these important natural motivational stimulants (dopamine and adrenalin)- which leaves us feeling depressed, exhausted and unable to cope with life.

The effects of caffeine reach their peak 30-60 minutes after consumption, after which it is broken down by the liver, half its peak level is left after about 5 hours, which means that if I drank 200mg of caffeine (found in a large cup of coffee) at 5pm then at 10pm there will still be 100mg of caffeine left in my system blocking adenosine reception.

As we have seen, Dopamine is necessary for us to sleep and since caffeine reduces dopamine in our body, the result is that we may fall asleep, but we will be robbed of the deep meaningful sleep that we need. We will then wake up feeling tired which would probably make us want to drink more coffee.

This begins a cycle and a lot of people in this cycle report headaches and a feeling of being tired and depressed.

Caffeine Side effects:

  • Caffeine stimulates the heart, central nervous system and respiratory system- but it can ultimately cause drowsiness, anxiety, confusion and irritability.
  • Raises blood pressure.
  • Causes the stomach to produce more acid.
  • Irritates the stomach lining which can cause nausea and cramps and can even lead to stomach ulcers.
  • Hinders digestion by relaxing the intestinal muscles
  • Makes your blood thicker.
  • Hardens the arteries, making blood vessels thicker.
  • Dehydrates the body- this is because caffeine is a diuretic.
  • Interferes with having a good night sleep. This is because the nervous system is too stimulated to allow deep restful sleep.
  • Interferes with calcium absorption, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Can cause one to feel dizzy and very jittery with shaking hands and legs and palpitations.

Very few people know that coffee is a muscle relaxant (which can be good and bad), too much caffeine in the system can relax the sphincter muscles, these being the muscles that open and close at either the esophagus to ingest food or at the bowel to control our urge to pass faecal matter.