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Caffeine Effects on the Human Body

Coffee, cola and chocolate all share an important chemical component: caffeine. We hear many things about the effects of caffeine on the body. Is it good for you? Bad for you? How fast does the body absorb it and how long does it stay in it? It all depends on who you are, when and how frequently you ingest it and what you are doing afterwards. Government scientific studies show that caffeine will reduce boredom (of doing repetitive tasks for a long period of time) and increase alertness when the consumer is tired. On the other hand, caffeine will disturb one's sleep and affect the central nervous system, resulting in increased anxiety. Let's take a closer look.

When a person drinks coffee or cola, it will take between 15 and 45 minutes until the caffeine reaches its highest level in the bloodstream. Since the brain controls the body, it is the quantity of caffeine that gets to the brain that will determine how intense the effects will be on the body. Those effects will generally be at their peak within 30 to 60 minutes of ingestion and last for as long as there is caffeine in the blood. It takes on average 3 to 4 hours for a non-smoking adult to eliminate one-half of the consumed caffeine (caffeine half-life). Enzymes in the liver transform the caffeine and its waste products are eliminated through urine. However, in the case of a woman taking the pill, caffeine's half-life reaches 13 hours. For a pregnant woman, it is 20 hours. Pregnant women will also secrete caffeine in their breast milk. For the baby drinking it, half-life of caffeine can be as long as 30 hours.

Caffeine effects appear enhanced when the body is in a less alert state, like when working at night. Once caffeine is absorbed, in small doses and by a healthy person, it will have beneficial effects on the body, such as increased alertness and reduced fatigue. It can also reduce boredom of a lengthy, repetitive task requiring a sustained attention. Physically, the heart beat, respiration, gastroenteric reflexes and stomach acid production are increased, and smooth muscles such as the bronchial muscle are relaxed.

For sensitive people, it has been shown that excessive caffeine intake may cause insomnia and increased anxiety. As a result, it may also reduce fine motor coordination. It also has to do with the consumer's habits. Regular coffee drinkers, for example, have an increased tolerance for caffeine effects. Heavy users even grow accustomed to shorter periods of time for sleeping. On the physical side, coffee is known to relax the sphincter muscles at the top of the stomach, and so heartburn may occur, but it is another substance that caffeine that causes this. What caffeine does is increase the secretion of acid in the stomach, which can make an existing ulcer more painful. It also causes the heart to beat irregularly, but no evidence indicates that caffeine may play a part in heart disease developement.

Overall, when caffeine is consumed by a healthy person in normal doses, it has many positive effects on the body. A military study even shows that giving caffeine to soldiers at regular intervals will keep their level of physical performance over a sleepless night as high as it is in a non-fatigued state. So it is more than okay for healthy people to drink it daily and to use it occasionally for an extra kick when needed.

Take a look at this page, there are so many Fun Things to Know About Coffee!


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