Are you the type to feel jittery after the caffeine hit of a single espresso, or do you feel unaffected no matter how many coffees you make in line?
There are multiple reasons why we all react to caffeine differently. Chief among them is the amount of an enzyme called CYP1A2 in your liver, and that depends on your genes.
People with lower CYP1A2 levels take longer to break down caffeine; they also feel its stimulating effects more intensely.
But even if you feel like you can “hold” your caffeine just fine, there are good reasons to limit it.
The NHS recommends that adults drink no more than 400mg per day (for pregnant women, it’s 200mg).
Are you the type to feel jittery after the caffeine hit of a single espresso, or do you feel unaffected no matter how many coffees?
Even if you feel like you can “hold” your caffeine just fine, there are good reasons to limit it.
But with a standard cup of instant coffee containing around 100mg (takeaway coffees can contain three times this), a cup of tea around 55mg, and even a bar of dark chocolate around 80mg per 100g, you may soon join.
In fact, while we tend to think of caffeine as only present in tea or coffee, in its pure form it is found in 60 different plants, from the kola nut to cocoa.
Caffeine has some amazing health benefits—for example, it’s been linked to a reduced risk of some skin cancers (more on that later), but it’s best known, of course, as a stimulant, waking us up. and improves our focus.
It has this effect because it blocks the action of a chemical called adenosine, which is produced naturally in the body, mainly in the liver.
Adenosine binds to receptors found on cells in our bodies, including nerve cells in the brain, where they play a role in our sleep/wake cycle.
Normally, our adenosine levels rise during the day and it binds to these receptors. As a result, it slows down the activity of nerve cells, making us feel sleepy and tired.
But caffeine, which is chemically similar to adenosine, also binds to these receptors. This blocks the path of the sedative adenosine in the brain, with the result that we feel cheerful and alert.
While that can be helpful in the morning, it’s a reason to avoid caffeine later on (I personally don’t have anything after noon). But you can take full advantage of the uplifting effect by taking your caffeine an hour before you need a mental or physical boost.
Caffeine is rapidly absorbed in the gut, with levels peaking after about an hour and falling steadily over the next five hours on average.
You can use that ‘high performance’ window to do work that requires extra brain power or to make a workout easier to endure.
A review published last year in the journal Nutrients found that caffeine increased runners’ endurance and improved their times.
But downing shot after shot of caffeine won’t make you feel more alert or run faster; research suggests that a second coffee only perks you up if you drink it eight hours after the first.
In one study, 49 habitual caffeine drinkers were given coffee or a placebo drink at different times of the day and asked to repeat mental tasks at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m.
did you know
The results showed that the first coffee of the day (after eight hours of abstinence or more) improved cognition, as did a coffee at 5 pm (after an interval of eight hours from the first), but the intermediate ones had no no effect, the journal Psychopharmacology reported. in 2005.
This may be because caffeine is broken down in the liver, and when you consume anything above 100mg, this process slows down.
There are other short-term benefits of caffeine. For example, it increases thermogenesis, the rate at which you burn calories to generate heat, thanks to the resulting increase in hormones like epinephrine, which promote fat burning.
These effects don’t last that long, a few hours at best, but they are enough to make a difference.
A study in the journal Obesity in 2007 found that having 300mg of caffeine led to burning around 100 additional calories throughout the day. In theory, this would mean that 300 mg of caffeine a day could save about 5 kg (about 11 pounds) of weight per year. But the reality is less impressive because your body adapts to the thermogenic effects of caffeine over time.
This is why “metabolism booster” pills that are loaded with caffeine do not lead to long-term weight loss.
One of the more unusual things about caffeine is its association with a lower risk of skin cancer. Studies have found that caffeine drinkers have lower rates of basal cell carcinoma (the most common of all skin cancers) and malignant melanoma (the deadliest form).
A 2012 study in the journal Cancer Research found that those who drank more than three cups of coffee a day had the lowest risk of basal cell carcinoma compared to those who drank coffee only occasionally.
We suspect that it is the caffeine and not other components that work, since a review in the journal PLOS One in 2016 found that people who drank coffee had a lower risk of melanoma, but those who stuck to decaf did not.
Separate research has identified a possible mechanism: Caffeine helps our bodies identify and remove damaged skin cells, thereby reducing the threat of cancer.
But while caffeine can claim some impressive benefits, there are downsides. One that will surprise anyone who swears they need a caffeine fix to calm down is that it increases your stress levels. That’s because caffeine raises cortisol levels, a key stress hormone, which increases heart rate and blood pressure.
A landmark study from the 1990s involving 25 men who were given either a caffeinated drink or a placebo before a stressful task found that the caffeine group’s cortisol levels were double those of the non-caffeinated group. they received a placebo.
My suggestion is that if you have an interview or other stressful event coming up, it’s probably not a good day for multiple coffees.
Caffeine is also an intestinal stimulant: it stimulates the production of the hormone gastrin, which stimulates the muscle at the end of the colon. If you have a sensitive gut, this can lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain.
It can also relax the valve at the bottom of the esophagus, which prevents stomach contents from coming back up. So if you have acid reflux, stick to half of the 400mg daily limit.
I wouldn’t want to finish my morning coffee, but I’m sticking to one, and I’ve started having my dark chocolate treat after lunch instead of before bed.
TRY THIS: Sparkling Cashew Latte
Forget wasting time steeping and straining, this nutty latte uses whole cashews, saving you time and giving you an extra hit of prebiotic fiber to nourish your gut microbes, in addition to those beneficial compounds in coffee. It’s deliciously creamy, too.
- 250 ml hot coffee, prepared according to the intensity you prefer
- 30 g roasted cashews
- 1 Medjool date
Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend for one minute, or until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavors to your preference.
In addition to those beneficial compounds in coffee, it’s also deliciously creamy.
Forget wasting time soaking and straining, this nutty latte uses whole cashews
Advice: If you’re feeling indulgent, use salted roasted cashews for a burst of flavor. While they do contain some added salt, in the grand scheme of a diet rich in plants and whole foods, that’s pretty negligible.
I am 57 years old and through the years of perimenopause, and now menopause, I have developed a large belly. This may be genetic, as I remember my grandmother being stout, but I’d like to know what kind of diet might change it. I don’t eat sweet things and I only have a couple of glasses of wine on the weekends. However, I love whole wheat bread and eat a lot of pasta.
Tina Sims, via email.
Abdominal weight gain during perimenopause and menopause is very common: A 2021 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that, compared with premenopause, women’s weight gain at the waist was greater during menopause.
This shift in fat distribution is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including hormonal changes and reduced physical activity, commonly attributed to menopause-related symptoms (such as fatigue) and therefore , to the reduction of muscle mass.
Abdominal weight gain during perimenopause and menopause is very common
To combat these effects, maintaining muscle mass through regular exercise and spreading your protein intake throughout the day (which helps stimulate muscle growth) can be a game changer.
It’s also more important to minimize the blood sugar spikes that tend to be more pronounced at menopause, leading to increased fatigue and food cravings (I’ll explain more about this in my next column).
An easy way to do this is to eat carbohydrate-rich foods (such as bread and pasta) with protein, fiber, or healthy fats. For example, accompany your bread with egg (protein) and tomato (fiber) instead of jam, another carbohydrate.
I would also swap your bread for whole grain sourdough, if available, as it has been shown to have less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
Contact Megan Rossi
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Good Health, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London, W8 5HY; include contact details. Dr. Megan Rossi cannot enter personal correspondence. Answers should be taken in a general context; always consult your GP if she has health problems