Over 80% of adults in the UK use caffeine every day, many of us struggling to wake up without our morning cup of joe. Yet despite our steady consumption of tea, coffee and fizzy drinks, most give little thought to where caffeine comes from, or how it even works. Here are some facts that every coffee-drinker should know.
It Blocks Your Receptors
As the day wears on, a neurochemical called adenosine builds up in our bodies, and after reaching certain levels it starts to make us sleepy. Enter caffeine. Caffeine binds and essentially blocks our adenosine receptors, allowing our body’s natural stimulants to go about their business.
It’s The Most Widely Used CNS Stimulant
CNS, or central nervous system stimulants, speed up both mental and physical processes in the body. Other substances in this category include cocaine, amphetamines, and nicotine. Just like these other stimulants, caffeine is addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped.
The More You Drink, The Harder You Crash
Half of our brain’s adenosine receptors are blocked after roughly 4 cups of coffee. But this does not stop adenosine from being produced, and once the caffeine wears off, it floods our body to reach the receptors. Unsurprisingly, this can leave us feeling tired and groggy.
It Acts As A Natural Pesticide
Occurring naturally in more than 60 plants, caffeine is toxic to insects, paralysing and killing any damaging pests. Low doses are also used by plants to manipulate the memory of bees, encouraging them to return to the same type of plant.
It’s Not Always Natural
While it is fairly abundant in leaves, seeds and fruit, chemical caffeine is far more widespread. Companies are not required to state its source, but if the ingredients list ‘caffeine’, it likely came from a lab, not a leaf.