In The Name Of Defense: Coffee

January 31, 2012 — Leave a comment

 Did you know that over the past 60 years there have been 21k studies done on caffeine? If you do the math on that you have just about one study per day. With that said you would think that researchers would know the in-and-outs of caffeine and whether or not it’s good for you, or bad, so we could move on to something else. Since caffeine’s most popular form is coffee, personally, I always tell people that it is good to have in moderation for several reasons. Before I get into that though, let’s just take a look on how caffeine works!

The Biology

To best understand how chugging a cup of Joe can send you into an energizing jolt you’ll first need an introduction on the compound adenosine. As you are sitting there right now, hunched over your keyboard, reading this blog, adenosine is coursing through your veins, and it’s job is to put a halt on your central nervous system. Men’s Health Magazine likes to call it “Nature’s Chill Pill.” Knowing that, you can better understand why as the day goes on the adenosine builds up in your bloodstream making you more and more tired, like when your body tells you to turn off the game and let your battery recharge.

Think of the following as an electrical socket plugging into an outlet, because adenosine accomplishes the shutdown by plugging into adenosine receptors.

“These connections inhibit the release of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that control both brain and muscle function,” says William Lovallo, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Oklahoma. “As a result, both your mind and your body slow down.”

But according to several researchers, caffeine is just an adenosine impersonator, and in fact, when battling the adenosine for a spot in the receptors, comes out on top. This means that adenosine can’t do it’s just and hence all your extra energy from the caffeine.

Your Brain: As soon as you take your first sip of coffee you get a release of dopamine, which is a brain chemical responsible for alertness, problem solving, and pleasure.

Your Heart: Adenosine helps blood vessels relax, however this causes an artery constriction resulting in a rise to blood pressure.

“If you don’t have hypertension to begin with, the temporary blood-pressure increase from a cup of coffee isn’t a problem,” says Matthew Sorrentino, M.D., a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “Plus, the impact on blood pressure tends to be smaller in habitual caffeine drinkers because their bodies become somewhat tolerant to its effects.”

Your Muscle: Since caffeine raises your heart and breathing rate, it can positively effect your overall performance.  “

“Caffeine may also have a direct effect on your muscles. Here’s how: Calcium must be released within a muscle fiber in order for that fiber to contract, and caffeine may block the adenosine receptors attached to muscle fibers, triggering electrical activity that prompts bigger bursts of calcium.”

Weight Loss: When you think about it, black coffee is virtually fat and calorie free, and the caffeine itself may act as an appetite suppressant. This effect though is usually short lived, and may even be opposite for some people, triggering hunger. It’s also said that caffeine can temporarily boost your metabolism by something called thermo genesis, which is when your body digests to produce heat and energy at a quicker pace. Caffeine ALSO stimulates physical activity which can lead to more calorie burn.

There are many ways that drinking coffee can benefit your overall health via your brain, heart, muscles, and even contribute to your weight loss goals. Decaf coffee won’t have the same effect because it can’t spark thermo genesis, or suppress appetite, but it still counts as a no calorie beverage that can fill you up better than a caloric catastrophe. That’s not to say you should drink 20 cups off coffee a day, but if you keep it in check and not overdo it with the caffeinated beverage, you could be drinking your way to a slimmer mid section and also being so healthy.

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