Last week, we discussed one vitally important aspect of caffeine that everyone should understand in order to make an informed decision about their own caffeine consumption.
This week, we’ll take it a step broader and discuss some interesting and/or helpful facts about the topic.
Here, in no particular order, are some facts—pro, con, or just interesting—about caffeine.
Your Caffeine Half-Life is Genetic
I’ll be the first to roll my eyes at the old “it’s just genetics” argument, but there are variations of the gene that assists the process of metabolizing caffeine. Depending on which variant of the gene you have, you might be either a slow or fast metabolizer.
Functionally, all that means is that your body might rid itself of caffeine faster or slower than the person next to you.
This explains why my wife can be fine drinking a cup of coffee at 5pm, whereas I toss and turn all night if I have any caffeine after about noon.
Maybe Wait an Hour
Cortisol is a hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Specifically, it rises and falls throughout the day—starting with a spike around the time you get up in the morning.
It’s been argued that it would be more effective to wait until after this first spike is over to start consuming caffeine because otherwise you’re trying to give yourself a boost when your body is already doing so naturally.
If you have a few minutes, check out this well put together and concise video on some common misconceptions about caffeine!
Protective Against Disease?
Studies have shown that regular caffeine consumption can be protective against several disease states.
But before we go into those, a couple caveats:
First, most studies that produce this type of information are what we call “epidemiological studies,” which is to say they look at large groups of people and notice correlations between behaviors (or other factors, like environment) and characteristics or states of being (I would say “outcomes,” but that would imply cause and effect). So though coffee consumption might be associated with a decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease (spoilers), it is not completely accurate to say that coffee helps prevent Parkinson’s.
Second, it’s important to note that most of these studies look at coffee consumption, not strictly caffeine consumption. That’s an important distinction because there could be other components of coffee at play here beyond just caffeine.
Here’s a list of diseases and maladies that seem to benefit from regular coffee consumption:
- Colon cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Liver cancer
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Weight management
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Oxidative damage
- Cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality
Roasting Degrades Caffeine
The longer a coffee bean is roasted, the darker it gets.
[You probably could have guessed that.]
But what most people might not guess is that the longer a bean is roasted, the less caffeine it has. So while it seems logical to assume that a darker, more flavorful coffee roast would have more caffeine in it, it's also incorrect.
That Blonde Roast? More caffeine than the Sumatra.
You've been warned!