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Coffee – properties, health effects, drug or drug?

Coffee.. many of us cannot imagine normal functioning without a morning dose of caffeine.
The unique and characteristic taste of coffee and its stimulating effect make it the most consumed drink in the world.
The main ingredient in coffee beans is caffeine. It is she who influences the biological processes taking place in our body. The highest concentration of caffeine in the blood is observed 15-120 minutes after consumption, depending on the individual conditions of the body. It is classified as a psychoactive substance from the group of stimulants.


Why is it worth drinking coffee?

Currently, it is assumed that a safe dose of caffeine during the day is 400 mg, which is about 4 cups of coffee. It belongs to the purine alkaloids, it is structurally similar to adenosine, so it will block adenosine receptors, and thus the secretion of catecholamines: adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. Adenosine induces relaxation and sedation when it attaches to receptors located in the brain. The antagonistic effect of caffeine on adenosine receptors will reduce fatigue, drowsiness and increase motor skills. Caffeine strongly stimulates the CNS, stimulates the respiratory and vasomotor centers. In addition, it slightly dilates the smooth muscles of blood vessels (except cerebral – narrows). As a result, there is an improvement in concentration and cognitive functions, as well as acceleration and facilitation of thought processes. The peripheral effects of caffeine include a slight increase in blood pressure and an increase in diuresis.

Advantages of drinking coffee:

It lowers the risk of depression by about 15-20% (people who drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day compared to people who drink 1 cup of coffee a week suffer from depression less frequently; the risk of suicide also decreases).
Caffeine has also been shown to have a positive effect on slimming, as it stimulates the secretion of gastric juice, and also affects the metabolic processes in the body, enhances lipolysis of adipose tissue and thermogenesis of the body, which may contribute to faster loss of adipose tissue and body weight.
The list of positive effects of caffeine, especially for athletes, is very wide. The conducted research clearly indicated a several percent improvement in the results during both aerobic and anaerobic exercises.
Coffee and its polyphenolic compounds reduce insulin resistance and improve glucose metabolism, so they can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
According to many scientific reports, it has been proven that regular consumption of coffee in moderate amounts has a protective effect on the central nervous system and reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Due to the antioxidant activity of coffee, it has been suggested that it may reduce the risk of liver cancer.
By lowering the cholesterol level in the gallbladder, the risk of developing gallstones is reduced, especially in men – by about 20%.
Negative aspects of drinking coffee.
Systematic consumption of high doses of caffeine, on average from 500 to 600 mg a day, can lead to addiction. Caffeine is a condition when the amount of caffeine in a person’s food per day exceeds 750 milligrams (about 4 cups of brewed coffee).
Symptoms of sudden withdrawal, i.e. abstinence from caffeine, include: depression, irritability, anxiety, drowsiness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, muscle tension and soreness, hand tremors and facial flushing.

The symptoms of overdose include:

mood changes
psychomotor agitation
worsening of anxiety symptoms
significant increase in the amount of urine excreted
nausea and vomiting
impaired concentration and attention
What’s more, coffee limits the absorption of elements such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron, which has a negative impact on health and may result in a deficiency of the above-mentioned micronutrients.
The risk of stroke increases as caffeine raises blood pressure. Caffeine in coffee has an impact on our heart, namely it prolongs the QT interval in the electrocardiogram (ECG) – this interval corresponds to the time during which the ventricular muscle is depolarized and repolarized (in other words, it is the complete cycle in which the heart contracts and decompresses). An increase in the QT interval by approximately 30 milliseconds is already evidence of an arrhythmia that can eventually even lead to death.

Who Should Avoid Drinking Coffee?

People suffering from neuroses, exposed to high stress, especially children and adolescents, as it disturbs the proper development of bones and brain, increases the risk of risky behavior and the risk of reaching for other psychoactive substances – it should be emphasized here that kids are energy drinks rich in caffeine
Smokers – The risk of developing heart disease increases.
Patients suffering from gastroesophageal reflux or gastric ulcers, because caffeine stimulates the secretion of gastric juice – it may irritate the gastrointestinal wall and aggravate symptoms in the course of these diseases.
People suffering from insomnia – 150 milligrams of caffeine (which corresponds to a cup of coffee) in the afternoon / evening can affect sleep – its shallowness, trouble falling asleep and morning fatigue.


Caffeine can relieve migraine headaches because it limits the synthesis of leukotrienes and prostaglandins, which are responsible for the pain. It has been proven that the combination of an analgesic drug with caffeine gives much better clinical efficacy, as it produces a synergistic effect. Among the many available medications, we can find caffeine in their composition, so you should limit the use of coffee with them, because we provide an additional dose of caffeine, which may translate into too strong effects of these drugs and cause a number of side effects, including, for example, heart palpitations, pain headache or insomnia.

To sum up, the most popular drink in the world, which is coffee, and the caffeine it contains, can have both a positive and negative effect on our body. The key to maintaining health is finding the balance, the golden mean and following the thought “too much is unhealthy”.
In case of any concerns related to excessive consumption of caffeine or other diseases, it is worth consulting a specialist.

S. Surma, M. Romańczyk, J. Fojcik, M. Krzystanek, Coffee – drug, stimulant substance and narcotic.
R. Wierzejska, Caffeine – a common dietary component and its influence on health

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