Your Brain on Coffee. How Does Coffee Improve Your Mood?

Morning Happiness

 

We all have different reasons to look forward to waking up every morning. For many, the earthy aroma of coffee brewing gets us up and going. The thought of indulging in a delicious cup of coffee is enough to uplift our spirits. And this shared experience is supported by science, itself –  coffee makes us happy.

The Science Behind Why Coffee Makes Us Healthy and Happy

To get to the nitty-gritty, coffee is made up of many chemicals and antioxidants that significantly contribute to sustaining our health. Some of the chemicals found in a single cup of coffee are 2-Ethylphenol, which keeps us active and vigilant, 3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid, which protects us from neuron damage, Trigonelline, which fights cavity-causing bacteria in our mouths, and Niacin, a vitamin B3 that rejuvenates cells and prevents dementia.

Health benefits to drinking coffee range from improving memory to lowering the risk of cancer. Because a single cup of coffee is filled with antioxidants, it helps fight inflammation and keeps your brain functioning at a high level. Scientists have found that there are about 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans, and hundreds more grow during the roasting process. Coffee has even been shown to help with neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s. Studies have demonstrated that coffee mends memory retrieval and consolidation. Caffeine improves brain reaction time and speed, aiding you to perform mental tasks at higher speeds.

The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body

Aside from these health benefits, we can’t forget about the boosts of positive energy that go hand-in-hand with your morning caffeine intake.

The science behind why caffeine does wonders for our moods starts off with identifying adenosine, a neurochemical that makes us feel sleepy. Caffeine binds to its receptors, disabling adenosine from carrying out its function to make the body feel tired. After triggering your alertness, the body releases dopamine and glutamate – stimulants that make you feel pleasure. In other words, coffee stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain, which activate that feel-good experience. On top of vitalizing you with energy, caffeine also blocks adenosine from breaking off your brain’s liveliness and euphoria.

The effects don’t stop in your brain – you feel the impact of coffee throughout your entire body. Once you consume more caffeine, your heart rate speeds up and blood pressure increases as more oxygen spread to the brain. This results in a feeling we all know too well: jitteriness.

Coffee can even improve athletic performance since caffeine stimulates adrenaline responses that open up airways, increase blood flow to muscles, and improve reaction time. Because caffeine is a performance and endurance amplifier, it fights fatigue as well as strengthens muscle contraction. 

Coffee as an Antidepressant

As caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, it acts as an antidepressant by elevating the body’s dopamine and serotonin levels. Scientific studies that explore the relationship between the caffeine in coffee and depression found that caffeine can reduce the degree of depression. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health also saw a connection between drinking 2 to 4 cups of coffee a day and a lower risk of suicide among adults. 

Caffeinated vs. Decaffeinated Coffee

When it comes to public perception, decaffeinated coffee gets the short end of the stick. Unlike regular coffee, decaf coffee is made from coffee beans that have had at least 97 percent of their caffeine extracted. They become decaffeinated when washed in solvents that remove their caffeine content prior to roasting. Apart from the caffeine, the nutritional value of decaf coffee is nearly the same as that of caffeinated coffee. A few distinguishing features of regular coffee are improved mental health, increased metabolism, enhanced athletic performance, and a lower risk of liver damage. For those who are more sensitive to caffeine, decaf coffee is an alternative to satisfy your coffee fix while lowering your body’s chances of getting acid reflux.

Coffee Connects Us

With more than 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Even during the pandemic when people’s coffee habits have changed, they still drink it much – some people brew coffee themselves at home and some get a coffee subscription. Coffee connects us in more ways than we know it. It gives you the opportunity to fuel your wanderlust by journeying the world’s best coffee while learning about the people behind the bean. Cherish your cup of joy a little more with someone who shares the same love.

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