Effects of tea and coffee on students’ brain and health

Student Life

Effects of tea and coffee on students’ brain and health

15 Feb, 2021

Hello guys, I’m your brain.

Given the exam period, with intense study sessions by day and by night, I would like to tell you my opinion on the use of doping substances (supplements, or worse, drugs) in the preparation time.

If you’re about to say “come on, they only help us stay awake and active, what’s the problem?”, I can assure you this is not true.

The problems are real

And, since I am the one to manage them, here are some:

  • Increasing alertness does not absolutely mean increasing the state of attention, concentration and memory: you will be awake, with eyes wide open and your heart beating fast, but the concentration will be much more volatile, much less “on point”, with accelerated thoughts that fail to stay on the path of logical-deductive reasoning
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  • The artificial expansion of mood will make you falsely self-confident, almost arrogant, like “wow, I know everything very well!” and it will not allow you to delve into the topics on which you are weakest.

  • In addition to being falsely confident and cocky, you can become irascible and irritable.

  • All the arterial vessels, being overstimulated by this filth, tighten too much, until some of my cells die. Dangerous effects also occur in the lower arteries, such as those of the heart and reproductive organs.

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Can we do something?

Of course we can, in a natural and healthy way. Here are some tips:


It is rich in substances that give me a little wake up call, in a delicate way, such as caffeine; and, above all, it is rich in substances useful to keep my cells from aging: antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, such as polyphenols from the chlorogenic acid family.

How many coffees a day? 3 cups a day, preferably after a meal, to avoid symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux.

What kind of coffee? Medium roasted Italian espresso is an ideal one, given its best balance among taste, amount of caffeine and the presence of antioxidant polyphenols.

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Did you know that theine is chemically identical to caffeine? They are both 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine and the name changes only to define the plant from which it is extracted.

You may wonder if, to wake up, I prefer the effect of coffee or tea. It depends on what I have to do: coffee gives me a faster and more concentrated stimulus, ideal for example in the morning when I have to start the day or after a main meal.

On the other hand tea, which – due to the way it is prepared – extracts theine in a more diluted way, is excellent for a mid-morning, mid-afternoon or night break: the reactivating energies arrive more slowly, but in a more refined and persistent way.

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As for tea, remember also that kind of tongue twister of epigallocatechin gallate (or EGCG): it is a very precious polyphenol, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antiplatelet action; if you take it during a meal, it also helps you reduce the glycemic impact of the foods you are eating.

How many teas a day? Without problems, 3 large cups (300 ml each) a day.

What kind of tea? Green tea has the highest concentration of theine, EGCG and other antioxidant polyphenols, but not everyone likes it (it tastes a little bitter). Alternatively, you can use the classic black tea or, if you want very little theine, lots of polyphenols and a sweeter taste, the bancha hojicha tea dear to the Japanese tradition.

One last recommendation, valid for both tea and coffee: do not add milk, which does not affect caffeine/theine but which blocks the bioavailability of most antioxidant polyphenols.

In the meantime, have a good study, and remember to take care of me!

Written by

Stefano Erzegovesi
Stefano Erzegovesi

A psychiatrist and nutritionist, he lives and works in Milan. He is director of the Center for Eating Disorders of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan and deals with scientific dissemination in the field of healthy eating; healthy for the body, for the mind and for the environment in which we live. He loves to read about everything, aimlessly ride a motorcycle and stay in the kitchen with his children to make vegetables appetizing. His dream, which is gradually coming true, is to take care of people in a large kitchen; because, by eating well, we can prevent a good part of the chronic diseases of our time and, while we are at it, live together with others in a more peaceful way.

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