Caffeine is estimated to be consumed by 80% of people worldwide. Over two billion cups of coffee are consumed across the world every day - although tea, cola and even chocolate all contain caffeine too.
The caffeine molecule has a psychostimulant effect on our central nervous system, meaning that it helps us to feel more awake and alert.
Different food and drink contain different amounts of caffeine, but all caffeine affects the body in the same way.
The effect of coffee on the body
At the cellular level, caffeine blocks the action of a chemical called phosphodiesterase (PDE). Inside cells, PDE normally breaks down the second chemical messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). When the breakdown of cAMP is blocked, its effects are prolonged, and the response throughout the body is effectively amplified.
This amplified response prompts norepinephrine (also called noradrenalin) and a related neurotransmitter called epinephrine to increase the rate and force of the heart’s contraction. These chemical messages also lead to ‘fight or flight’ behavior which help us feel ready for a threatening situation - which is why after drinking coffee we feel more alert and can also experience enhanced physical performance.
But there are downsides. Caffeine consumption can lead to less hand steadiness, increased blood pressure and increased anxiety and “jitteriness”. Its effect can also last for up to six hours and so it can have a negative impact on your ability to sleep - an extremely important factor when it comes to health and wellness.
How much caffeine is in my favorite drink?
Generally black coffee contains twice as much caffeine per measure as brewed tea, and even more than many energy drinks.
If you want to find out exactly how much caffeine is in your favorite drink, we recommend exploring Caffeine Informer. It lists the caffeine content of almost every caffeinated drink you can imagine!
With this information to hand, you can plan your caffeine intake around your schedule and sleep routine so that you can feel more alert when you choose to.