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362. Chained to Caffeine

Jang, Min-young 기자2016.06.18 17:01:00

 ‘Snoopy coffee milk’ by GS25 is a recent hit among worn out students and exhausted workers. It started being in the spotlight during the midterms last April because of its high caffeine content of 237mg per 500ml. This is about 2.5 times greater than the caffeine content of a popular energy drink, Hot 6, which is 46.9mg per 250ml. Due to its fame, the Snoopy coffee milk was quickly sold out in most stores. One of the factors contributing to the popularity of high caffeine content drinks is the effect that caffeine brings.

How Caffeine Tricks the Brain

In only 10 minutes after taking a sip of coffee, caffeine starts to kick in and the absorption reaches a maximum level in 45 minutes. Once caffeine kicks in, it starts to make hormone changes.

Caffeine resembles a brain chemical called adenosine which regulates brain function. A nerve cell confuses caffeine with adenosine and lets caffeine bind to adenosine receptors. Whereas adenosine slows down the nerve activity and promotes sleep, caffeine does the opposite by speeding up the nerve activity. It also increases the levels of dopamine and adrenaline. This explains symptoms such as faster heartbeat, extra energy, and an increase in blood pressure.

However, the effect of caffeine can differ for each person. It depends on one’s caffeine sensitivity determined by his or her unique genetic makeup. Thus, a slight difference in people’s DNA of a related gene decides how efficiently one can eliminate caffeine. The effects of caffeine last about three to five hours and it takes 8 to 12 hours for caffeine to be completely out of a body system on average.

Caffeine Influence on Your Body

Here are some things caffeine allows one to do. Recovering focus after an all-night study is one of the influences. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that caffeine improves mental alertness. However, it should not be thought of as comparable to having sufficient sleep. This is because caffeine does not relax or refresh the body. Running faster than usual can be possible. Caffeine increases physical performance, so as long as caffeine’s effect lasts. Memorizing effectively may be possible according to the research team, led by Daniel Borota of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The team announced that caffeine boosts long term memory. ‘The (Johns Hopkins Research) team also found that memory performance was not improved if subjects in the experiment conducted were given caffeine 1 hour before carrying out the picture identification test,’ reports the Medical News Today.

On the other hand, excessive intake of caffeine can cause health risks. Depression is one of them and hypertension can also be observed due to dramatic increase in blood pressure. Drinking a cup of coffee three hours before sleep can disrupt sleep, causing insomnia. For a pregnant woman, too much caffeine can slow down the growth of the fetus or in more extreme cases, cause a miscarriage.

Be a Smart Caffeine Consumer

There has been much debate but most researchers agree that caffeine does not contain any addictive substances, fortunately. People drink coffee habitually; addiction and habit are very different concepts. Although caffeine is not considered addictive, one should not overlook the side effects that caffeine can cause. Therefore, understanding the caffeine content in various drinks and keeping to the recommended daily intake of caffeine is important.

     Average Caffeine Content

Caffeine Drinks

Caffeine Content (mg)

Brewed Coffee (8 oz.)

90 – 200

Decaffeinated Brewed Coffee (8 oz.)

2 – 12

Green Tea (8 oz.)

24 – 45

Soft Drink: Coke (12 oz.)

23 – 39

Soft Drink: Sprite (12 oz.)

0

Energy Drink (8 oz.)

75 – 80

Energy Drink with Extra Strength (2 oz.)

Over 200

* A regular-sized cup used at cafés is usually 12oz.

* This may vary along with the change in brewing time, roasting, or grinding.

It is generally agreed that the recommended daily caffeine intake for an adult ranges from 300 to 400 milligrams. As shown in the chart above, provided by Mayo Clinic, the daily intake is roughly about three to four cups of brewed coffee, 10 to 17 cans of coke, or two to three cans of an energy drink.

There are certain time ranges that can maximize the effects of caffeine. Research shows that it is best to consume caffeine when cortisol levels are low. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released in response to stress and low blood glucose. It mainly increases blood sugar and suppresses the immune system. If caffeine enters the body during a cortisol production phase, caffeine interferes with the process. In addition, one grows tolerant to caffeine as it replaces the natural cortisol boost instead of adding to the effect. The cortisol level rises three times a day and thus, in order to avoid the phases, the best times of the day to have a caffeinated drink is between 10 a.m. to noon and between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Everywhere on the campus, students are fighting a serious battle with drowsiness. To win over sleepiness effectively, one should not consume caffeine unconditionally. It is important to learn how to consume caffeine without suffering from the side effects. It is better to avoid ingesting too much caffeine, so decaffeinated drinks will be a better choice for anyone who drinks caffeine beverages just for the taste. One should not get chained to caffeine and remember that the best way to stay awake is to have sufficient sleep. 

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