A Cup Of Joe (or poison)
I love coffee.
My soul needs coffee.
My day won’t start well without a huge cup of coffee.
Is this you?
So What’s The Big Deal?
Human’s are as variable on the inside as we are on the outside. What we eat, how we sleep and even more importantly, our genes affect our bodily functions.
This post has a bit of science, but I think you’ll understand the potential impact on your health, so read on.
Our genetic makeup determines how our bodies metabolize and process everything we ingest. Genetic variability has a massive impact on whether or not a particular substance can harm us.
Everything must be broken down, absorbed and used or detoxified and discarded. This process can occur in various places such as the liver, gut or kidney, but the result is the same.
When nature (inheritance) deals us an undesirable hand, it’s time to take action. We can influence how our genes work by altering our behavior through nutrition and lifestyle modification. The data is impressive. The emerging science is called nutrigenomics.
Focusing On Coffee
A person’s ability to metabolize caffeine is classified as either:
- Fast metabolizers
- Slow metabolizers
Those who metabolize coffee fast suffer less ill effects and are less likely to have adverse health consequences from drinking coffee.
Slow metabolizers are more sensitive to the effects of coffee. The risk of adverse events increases as the body is not able to properly metabolize coffee.
Coffee (caffeine) is absorbed rather quickly into the blood stream. The liver metabolizes caffeine by using a particular enzyme system called the p450. In this case, CYP1A2 is the specific allele implicated in caffeine metabolism.
Here’s Where It Gets Interesting
Normal or Fast metabolizers have a genetic makeup of: A;A
Variations include: A;C and C;C
Both of these are considered SLOW metabolizers of caffeine.
The Risk Potential (Slow Metabolizers)
- Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart attack
- 1 cup/day = 24% increase risk of heart attack
- 2 cups/day = 64% increase risk of heart attack
- 4 or more cups/day = 233% increased risk
- Increase blood vessel stiffness
You may recall that Costa Rica is considered one of the earth’s Blue Zones. Regions where longevity dominates. Here is some data to make you pause for a moment.
A study of 2,000 Costa Ricans who survived their first heart attack noted a general trend between coffee intake, being a slow metabolizer and having a heart attack.
Basically: If a person is a slow metabolizer, their risk of having a heart attack goes up.
So Now What?
Like anything we do, it comes down to balancing risk vs. reward.
Is a morning cup of coffee:
C) An occasional treat
D) A dangerous habit pushing you to the grave
What will you decide? Will your behavior change?
Nutrigenomics: the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression.
Epigenetics: the study of cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off and affect how cells read genes instead of being caused by changes in the DNA sequence.
Allele: is one of a number of alternative forms of the same gene at the same locus.
Heterozygous: has two different alleles. In the article above A;C
Homozygote: has the same alleles. For example, AA
Base Pairs: are the building blocks of DNA; GCAT
GCAT: Guanine, Cytosine, Adenine, Thymine
DNA parings occur as follows:
written another way
Image source: BigStock