Coffee: the Elixir of Intelligence
It is no doubt that coffee has many potential benefits to a person’s health if drunk in reasonable amounts. It jumpstarts your day every morning with one hot cup during breakfast or it can stave off drowsiness in the later parts of the day where your energy starts to ebb. Ever since the civilized world discovered the coffee bean plant, people have enjoyed the boost this super beverage brings. That is not all though. Contemporary research has also unveiled the other wonders of a good ole’ cup of joe. From cancer-fighting antioxidants to lowered risks of diabetes and heart disease, coffee is just the gift that keeps on giving.
People have also noticed that coffee seems to improve our mental capacities, making us more alert and react faster to stimuli. This therefore led people to ask: can coffee make you smarter? For us to answer this, we must first set out to define what being smart or intelligent means. The ultimate definition of intelligence is one of the hottest debates in the science community. So much so that psychologists and neurologists have formed a number of theories regarding the topic and there is still no consensus as to what it really is.
However, for practicality’s sake, we will define “smarts” as having to do with the cognitive functions. Namely, these are how fast we process information, how much and how fast we can recall things, and how well we coordinate our thoughts with our body. Studies show that coffee does indeed improve these cognitive functions, and we can observe these improvements in our daily lives. This does not mean that coffee gives you greater knowledge and ensured higher test scores; but it does help you learn more efficiently.
What is in coffee that makes us smarter?
Coffee is made up of a multitude of compounds but its most active ingredient is Caffeine. By itself, caffeine is a bitter, colorless, crystalline compound. It is considered as a stimulant, or any substance that rouses body functions when ingested. Caffeine is responsible for the numerous health benefits of coffee, as well as the amazing brain-boosting effects. Caffeine generally helps people commit fewer mistakes that are related to sleepiness or lethargy in whatever work they are doing.
Just like any other stimulant, the amount of caffeine required to produce these desirable effects differs from person to person. Generally after puberty, males are affected more by caffeine than females if given the same amount of coffee. People with higher BMIs also need a bigger serving amount of coffee than people with lower BMI.
Nevertheless, the safe amount of coffee that could be drunk per day is at 400 mg, which is roughly equal to 3 – 4 cups of drip coffee. This ratio is dependent upon what type of coffee bean and preparation was used in making the drink (i.e. instant, percolation, drip or espresso). Any more than that and a person could suffer from adverse effects such as increased nervousness, anxiety and sleep deprivation.
Recently, scientists are studying the effects of coffee in fighting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The results have been inconclusive so far, but are promising. Also in moderate amounts, caffeine has been found out to decrease the effects of depression and thus indirectly decreasing the risk of extreme behavior such as suicide.
How does caffeine work?
Caffeine is a psychoactive substance that affects the CNS or the central nervous system. This means it directly affects the brain that is why its influence is more easily observed with cerebral tasks. It blocks the nerve receptors from acting upon adenosine, which causes the sensation of drowsiness. Thus, all adverse effects of drowsiness such as lower reaction times, fatigue, and weariness are prevented.
The effects of coffee are also quick to develop. An average person, regardless of gender or age, starts to absorb the compounds of coffee 10 minutes after drinking and fully distributes the caffeine throughout the body after 45 minutes. There have been some debates and studies made as how some people seem to get the effects of coffee immediately after imbibing a cup. This phenomenon has generally been attributed to the placebo effect by some researchers, or to the metabolic differences of an individual.
Because adenosine also slows down the metabolic rate of the body, caffeine stops this effect, thus making caffeine a great supplement for exercise and weight loss. Do beware of letting your pets have a taste of anything with caffeine, as it is toxic to them, just like chocolate.
Where else can you get caffeine?
Caffeine can be found in many different types of food and beverages. Tea, chocolate, some fruits and caffeinated soft drinks are some, to name a few. You can also find caffeine in tablets and supplements but these are, as of yet, unregulated and therefore might have some risks because of its concentrated nature.
Coffee remains as the world’s top source of caffeine. Furthermore it is the most prevalent and widespread beverage in the whole world besides alcoholic drinks. Coffee drinking culture is very different and diverse depending on what point of the earth you find yourself. A cup of coffee easily beats tea in having more caffeine per cup. Consequently, it is much easier to get your caffeine boost from a cup of espresso or cold brew coffee than a cup of earl grey.
People also speculate that darker roast coffee has more caffeine than lighter roast variants, which in reality, is actually the opposite. The roasting process reduces the amount of caffeine in the coffee bean because of the heat applied. However, this difference could be considered as insignificant when opting to choose what type of roast will give you more energy boost per cup.
Coffee: making you live your life to the fullest
Coffee has permeated our daily lives so much that it is a universal sight in most households around the globe. A cup of coffee in the morning helps us go about our day in a breezy manner. It is hard to live without it as it has unlocked so much of our potential. It is no wonder the people who discovered the coffee plant treated it as the beverage worthy of the gods. Divine of origin or not, coffee is still one of the best things in life that should be enjoyed, preferably in relaxing surroundings and a good read.