Monday 26 September 2016

Five things you didn't know about Coffee

Amy Mulvaney

Published 26/05/2016 | 15:30

Coffee is considered the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world
Coffee is considered the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world

We’re all partial to a cup of coffee (or five), but how much do you really know about our daily caffeine fix?

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“A cappuccino to go, please”, has become our new national anthem, but it doesn’t come without its surprises.

Louise Reynolds from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute tells us 5 facts that you may not have known about your favourite (non-alcoholic) drink:

1. It’s the only legal psychoactive substance in Ireland

“Coffee is considered the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world (and the only legal one available here in Ireland),” she says. A psychoactive substance changes brain function, including perception, mood and consciousness.

2. It can raise your blood pressure

“Caffeine molecules are very similar to a compound called adenosine which our bodies produce throughout the day. When adenosine builds up in your blood it binds to receptors in your brain and this sends a signal to the brain to say the body is tired and needs to rest,” Louise explains.

“If you take caffeine, the caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain in place of the adenosine and therefore the feeling of tiredness is not signalled to the brain.”

The jolt in caffeine can result in a rise in blood pressure and can take six hours to wear off, Louise says.

3. It might be responsible for your 3 o’clock slump

While you might feel energised after drinking coffee, the results don’t tend to last long.

“A cup of coffee can help you feel less tired and perked up but an over reliance on caffeine can lead to a feeling of crash after the effects wear off.”

4. Drinking it won’t speed your help you lose weight

“Regular coffee consumption will not change your metabolism and help you to lose weight,” says Louise. While it may seem that people lose weight by drinking coffee, it’s often a result of other factors, such as having a cup of coffee instead of eating a meal.

5. It can boost concentration

“Caffeine can help to boost your concentration if you are studying or need to work on shifts or late into the night,” says Louise. However, if you’re looking for a restful night’s sleep, Louise advises avoiding caffeinated drinks in the evening as they can upset sleep patterns and make nodding off more difficult.

 

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