Coffee—Friend or Foe?

Love your morning cup of coffee? You’re not alone. The intoxicating aroma and caffeine kick can make you feel like a real Warrior—increased alertness, enhanced mood, and a boost in energy that makes a tough gym workout feel like a breeze. For others though, it saps your Warrior mentality and triggers the jitters, feelings of anxiety, and trouble sleeping.

The research on coffee is also a mixed bag. Some findings point to wellness benefits from the antioxidants and polyphenols in coffee, while others show it increases the risk for certain health conditions. What gives?

The answer just might lie in genetics.

Researchers have pinpointed a gene called CYP1A2 that regulates how the liver metabolizes caffeine. Variants of this gene determine how rapidly your body can clear the substance from your system.

Fast metabolizers: People with the fast gene variant can process caffeine quickly. This could explain why some people can guzzle four cappuccinos, feel energized, and still get a good night’s sleep. Some research suggests that for fast metabolizers, coffee may be protective against chronic conditions like hypertension as well as heart attacks.

Slow metabolizers: People with the slow gene variant require more time to flush caffeine out of their system. This could make you more susceptible to the downsides of caffeine. Increased consumption among slow metabolizers has been associated with an increased risk for a nonfatal heart attack and high blood pressure.

This doesn’t mean you need to run out and order a genetic testing kit to see if you’re a fast or slow metabolizer. And even if you’re a fast metabolizer, it doesn’t give you free license to go overboard on your coffee intake. The key is not to overindulge on caffeine.

No matter which category you fall into, you need to realize that caffeine is an addictive substance that constricts blood flow to the brain and can contribute to dehydration. Even more troubling is all the junk people put into coffee—sugar, flavored syrups, artificial sweeteners, whipped cream, half-and-half, and cow’s milk can turn it into a calorie hog that can affect your health and mental wellbeing.

If you’re anything like me, your morning cup of joe is more of a delicious comfort than anything. I don’t want to give it up, so I created a way to make my morning cappuccinos wholesome and delicious. 

If you’re going to indulge in coffee, limit your intake and make it as healthy as possible. Check out my Pumpkin Spice-Up Cappuccino for a delectable way to start your day.

 

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