Caffeine Effects on the Brain – Part 1

Welcome to GreenEyedGuide, your guide to the science behind caffeine and energy drinks. This is a series on How Caffeine Affects the Brain. Since this is a complex topic and we have a lot to cover, I’ve broken the key questions into different posts. In Part 1 we’ll discuss how caffeine makes you feel awake and alert, we’ll review the biochemistry (which you can skip), and we’ll summarize the ways caffeine does and does not help you focus.

Later in this series, we’ll also talk about:

  • Why does caffeine work differently after an all-nighter?
  • What ingredients in energy drinks help you focus during gaming?
  • Is coffee or energy drinks better for studying?
  • Does your brain get addicted to caffeine and energy drinks?

Part 1: How does caffeine help you focus?

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Trying Caffeinated Water? Start Here

Caffeinated water can be a great alternative to the stereotypical energy drink, but if you’ve never heard of caffeinated water, where do you start? How do you know if it’s right for you?  This is the third of a three-part series on caffeinated water. In the last two posts in this series, we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about caffeinated water. But now we ask one final question:

  • Where do I start?

In This Series:

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Why Does Coffee Make You Pee

Why does coffee make you feel like you have to pee? Does caffeine make you dehydrated? What if it’s caffeine from tea? From an energy drink? This is the second in a three-part series on caffeinated water. In this series, we answer the most commonly asked questions including:

  • Does caffeine make you dehydrated?
  • If water makes you hydrated but caffeine makes you dehydrated, what does caffeine water do to your body?
  • Is caffeinated water better than energy drinks?
  • Does all caffeine make you dehydrated? Or just coffee?
  • How does caffeine affect urine output?

In This Series:

Caffeine, Urine Output, and Hydration – A Summary of the Science

Don’t have time to watch the full video? No worries! The key details are below.

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Energy Drink Bans

In this three-part series, we’ll talk about whether energy drink bans are good or bad, what has been tried in the US, and the bans or restrictions in other countries.

PART ONE – Are Energy Drink Bans Good or Bad? Are They Effective?

In PART ONE of this three-part series, we’ll talk about energy drinks bans in general. Why do people want to ban energy drinks? How does an energy drink ban work? What drinks does it include and why? Read more

Why Caffeine Sensitivity is like Quidditch

Is caffeine sensitivity like Quidditch ability? While reading Science Meets Food’s article, “Does Caffeine Work on You” it dawned on me how well someone handles their caffeine is like how well someone plays Quidditch.

infographic explaining Quidditch
SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/11/21/sport/quidditch-mudbloods/index.html

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AGE

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Harry Potter is the youngest seeker in a century. Quidditch is dangerous for everyone but if you’re too young, it’s too hard to be successful. Same thing with caffeine. It’s dangerous for everyone (Bludger to the head = 1 gram of pure caffeine). But if you’re too young, it’s too hard for your body to metabolize the caffeine effectively, meaning more side effects (headache, nausea, jitters, irritability).

[We talked about caffeine and kids here on GreenEyedGuide]

harry potter trio young and old
SOURCE: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-14049090/harry-potter-stars-through-the-years

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GENES

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Hermione points out that Harry will be good at Quidditch because it’s in his blood. His dad was good at Quidditch, ergo, Harry has good Quidditch genes. At least 3 genes make you good at handling caffeine: one is for the liver enzyme that metabolizes caffeine; one gene is an on/off switch for that liver enzyme gene, and one is for the adenosine receptors caffeine snuggles into to keep you awake.

[if you find genetics interesting, there’s much more detail in this article on caffeine sensitivity by Caffeine Informer]

KEEPER pun harry potter with Quidditch rings
SOURCE: https://www.teepublic.com/sticker/1464469-im-a-keeper

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one more thing…

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Okay, but how come Ron sucks at Quidditch? Ginny, Fred, and George all seem to have good Quidditch genes, how come Ron is such a mental wreck when he plays? Because SENSITIVITY is different than TOLERANCE.

Tolerance is acquired over time, while caffeine sensitivity is more hard-wired. Ron’s tolerance for the attention and pressure that comes with playing Quidditch conflicts with his Quidditch ability. As Ron gets more tolerant of this attention and pressure, he’s only limited by his Quidditch ability. As we build a tolerance for caffeine, we’re then only limited by our caffeine sensitivity. But watch out for those over-caffeinated drinks and bludgers!

 

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Danielle Robertson Rath is a food scientist, consultant, speaker, and the founder of GreenEyedGuide.com. Her book “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks – How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely” is widely considered the ultimate resource for caffeine drinkers everywhere. Danielle aka “GreenEyedGuide” started studying energy drinks while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and master’s degree in food science. She has been fascinated by caffeinated beverages and their ingredients ever since.

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