Coffee is an instant energy booster. If you begin your day with a cup of coffee, it will make you feel fully charged to face the day. If you have the beverage in the afternoon, it will refresh you and help you to concentrate on your work.

But did you know that excessive use of coffee could lead you to depression and it can also affect your brain cells? It is mainly because a large amount of caffeine in the drink can cause some serious side effects.

So, here are a few things you must know before you sip your next cup of coffee.

What is caffeine? 

Let’s begin with the definition of Caffeine. It is a chemical known for stimulating the central nervous system. In simple words, it makes you feel less tired and keeps you awake even at a time your body longs for rest.

That’s why coffee is believed to be the best medicine for those who struggle with fatigue. The beverage sometimes becomes the best friend of those who struggle to concentrate in their works in the afternoon and those who work the night shifts.

Caffeine is also used as an ingredient in medications to treat headaches, migraines, and drowsiness. The chemical even plays a vital role in reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

However, the benefits of caffeine do not last for long. The chemical does not just have withdrawal symptoms, but it is also linked to several other health problems.

A judge in California has made it mandatory for the sellers to warn consumers of the coffee’s cancer risk. The risk of cancer comes from the process of roasting of beans that results in a chemical called acrylamide. The jury is still out on the definitive role of coffee drinking in causing cancer but we do know of the many side effects of caffeine that are proven.

In this article, we discuss 3 side effects of coffee and caffeine on your health.  

Effects of caffeine on brain cells

Caffeine is an expert in manipulating brain cells. Let’s find out how it happens. Caffeine has a similar molecular structure as of a neurotransmitter called Adenosine, which limits brain stimulation and makes us tired.

In order to keep us alert and awake, caffeine blocks this neurotransmitter from reaching the brain. This leads to the creation of more receptors and the body demands more caffeine to block them.

This chemical also lets other neurotransmitters that excite the brain to move freely.  As a result, more adrenaline is produced in the body by activating the adrenal glands. Since adrenaline is a kind of stress hormone, an increased production of it opens airways, elevates heart rate, redirects blood from vital organs to muscles and stomach as well as increases blood pressure.

Caffeine can also change the circulation of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which makes us feel good. By changing the amount of time this neurotransmitter uses to leave the brain and return to the body, caffeine makes us feel good.

Gradually, our body starts demanding more amount of coffee to boost energy, to make us alert and to improve our mood. Thus, we become addicted to the drink.

The connection between caffeine and depression

Although this chemical stimulant may not have any direct link to depression, it could lead you to that state, especially if you suddenly stop consuming it. According to a report by Mayo Clinic, a regular caffeine user could feel depressed after quitting it and the person may take some time to adjust to the new situation.

It has already been proved that coffee has many withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, migraine, anxiety, and irritability. Since anxiety and depression are interlinked, caffeine could worsen the condition.

Caffeine is not for those who are already struggling with depression mainly because it can worsen the situation. Caffeine causes sleep disorder and it can also result in mood changes.  

A study on coffee consumption in depressive disorders highlights the side effects of caffeine on people with panic disorder and postpartum depression. According to the study, caffeine heightens anxiety and worsens depression with mood disorders.

Caffeine suppresses the growth of new brain cells

Caffeine plays an important role in suppressing the growth of new nerve cells in the brain. You would be surprised to know that brain cells or neurons continue to grow throughout adulthood in an area called hippocampus. This growth of new neurons is known as neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is responsible for keeping your memory and cognitive skills sharp in the old age. 

A new study by researchers Christian T. Wentz and Sanjay S.P. Magavi from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States explains how caffeine alters proliferation of neuronal precursors in the adult brain.

According to the researchers, caffeine usually has a positive effect on alertness and attention. But excessive intake of it suppresses neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus through potentially indirect and complex pathways.

It will be particularly interesting, and potentially therapeutically useful, to examine how the multiple pathways influenced by caffeine interact to modulate hippocampal neurogenesis,” Wentz and Magavi stated in their research paper.

To know how to grow more brain cells read SoulGuru’s article on Neurogenesis.

How much coffee is too much 

Now, you might be wondering whether you should limit the intake or completely stop drinking coffee. The answer is simple – pay attention to all the signals your body is relaying to you. You need to figure out whether your body can really tolerate the amount of caffeine you are consuming on a daily basis.

Like any other food item, you need to know whether coffee works for you or not. The next big question is how many cups of coffee can you consume in a day with minimal side effects. The opinion of the experts varies from 4-8 ounces a day. 

Mayo Clinic has reported that four cups of coffee or a four hundred milligram of caffeine is safe for a healthy adult. But each person is different. You need to set your own limit by reading the messages your body is conveying to you. If you have a sensitive and nervous constitution then coffee is definitely not for you.

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