How does caffeine keep us awake?

Let us today discuss about one the most populary used stimulant- CAFFEINE. According to research data every year around 100000 metric tonnes of caffeine are consumed around the world. There must be something special about it since it is being consumed at such a huge scale.

How do we take in Caffeine

Most of us take in caffeine when we drink coffee and tea , but it is also ingested in some sodas, chocolates and beverages labeled decaf.

What all purposes caffeine serves

  • To the insects high doses of caffeine found in leaves and seeds is toxic but when consumed in right amount in nectar it helps them remember the plant.
  • In human body caffeine acts a stimulant for the central nervous system. It helps feel alert, happy and energetic.
  • There have been evidences that have shown that caffeine intake reduces diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and some types of cancer.
  • It is also believed to ramp up the body’s ability to burn fats that is why from 1994 to 2004 Olympic athletes had to stay below a certain blood caffeine concentration.

How does caffeine  works

Caffeine basically blocks one of the sleep inducing molecules- adenosine. We know that our body needs constant supply of energy that we get by breaking the molecule ATP. During this process adenosine is liberated. The neurons act as receptors of these molecules , when adenosine docks with these receptors a series of biochemical reactions takes place.These reactions slow the release of brain signaling molecules. Which makes us sleepy.

Caffeine’s molecular structure is very similar to adenosine so it derails this process of slowing neurons down by blocking adenosine receptors.  It also boosts positive feelings.  There is a molecule called dopamine which promotes the feeling of joy. But unlike adenosine which makes it harder for dopamine to fit in it’s own receptor , caffeine nullify this effect and thus dopamine shows its effect.

Some ill – effects of caffeine

Even though caffeine consumption turns out to have lots of benefits but there are some side effects too.

  • It raises the heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Causes increase in urination or diarrhea.
  • May also develop  insomnia and anxiety.

Conclusion

If an individual stops the intake of caffeine then initially he/she might feel tired, lazy. This is due to the extra work being done by adenosine but in a few our body readjusts and will start functioning properly.

So we need to understand that our bodies can work well even without the infusion of the world’s most popular stimulant.

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