Each day, billions of people rely on caffeine to wake up, or to get through that night shift or an afternoon slump.
In fact, this natural stimulant is one of the most commonly used ingredients in the world (1).
Caffeine is often talked about for its negative effects on sleep and anxiety.
However, studies also report that it has various health benefits.
This article examines the latest research on caffeine and your health.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants.
It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, helping you stay alert and prevent the onset of tiredness.
Historians track the first brewed tea as far back as 2737 B.C. (1).
Coffee was reportedly discovered many years later by an Ethiopian shepherd who noticed the extra energy it gave his goats.
Caffeinated soft drinks hit the market in the late 1800s and energy drinks soon followed.
Nowadays, 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product each day, and this number goes up to 90% for adults in North America (1).
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that’s widely consumed worldwide. It helps you stay awake and can stave off tiredness.
How it works
Once consumed, caffeine is quickly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.
From there, it travels to the liver and is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs.
That said, caffeine’s main effect is on the brain.
It functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired (2Trusted Source).
Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly more tired and causing you to want to go to sleep.
It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine (3Trusted Source).
This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness, and focus.