Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Coffee, and why not

The other day I read about coffee and the effect it has on your brain. By "your brain" I mean my brain. And everyone else's. Coffee doesn't actually introduce any new energy to the system, if we exclude the added sugar. Instead it prevents adenosine from doing its job. Adenosine is a chemical in the brain that makes us feel tired. Caffeine from coffee fits into adenosine receptors in the brain, making no room for adenosine, and thus no room for tiredness.

But the brain is smart. (Well, obviously.) It wants to relax, so it creates new adenosine receptors to get some of that calming effect. So in turn you'll need more caffeine to fill these new receptors, in addition to the old ones. And the brain will still outsmart you by creating some new receptors. This happens quite fast, too. Apparently it only takes a week to become addicted to caffeine, when you get to the point that you drink coffee just to become your normal self. For a few hours. After six hours, when all the caffeine washes out your urinal stream, adenosine gets to occupy all the existing and newly created receptors in your brain. What does that mean? 

You're going down. Fast.

Read more about coffee and the brain on You Are Not So Smart.

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