1.6 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day around the world. One of the building blocks of daily life and working culture. It is as if we owe our energy, mental capacity, concentration and motivation to coffee. We feel like the world will stop if we don't drink coffee.
So how does coffee affect our body and mind? It is the caffeine in it that impresses us. Caffeine is actually a white, bitter-tasting substance found naturally in more than 60 plants. It is classified as both a food and a drug because it has the status of a natural stimulant. In fact, caffeine is the most widely consumed 'drug' after water. Caffeine also causes the release of the hormone dopamine. This hormone is one of the miraculous hormones that gives us pleasure. It works similarly to cocaine, so the areas in our brains that are stimulated when we take cocaine and caffeine are the same. Although the American Psychiatric Association (APA) included coffee withdrawal on the DSM-5 list of psychiatric disorders in 2013, not everyone who stops drinking coffee experiences withdrawal symptoms. Especially when caffeine consumption is gradually reduced, withdrawal symptoms become more obscure. There are also those who claim that caffeine is not an addictive substance, as the effects of caffeine disappear in a much shorter time than other drugs, such as 7-12 days, when it is released directly. After 7-12 days, the effects of caffeine disappear on their own.
Caffeine affects the central nervous system, making us feel more sober, energetic, fit and alert. In short, we can say that it is both a cognitive and physical performance enhancer. Caffeine mixes with the blood in a short time like 10-15 minutes. Its effects appear within an hour after consumption and these effects decrease over time. There's even a gene called CYP1A2 that controls the rate of this decline.
One side of the CYP1A2 gene comes from the mother and the other from the father. Those who inherit the fast-running gene from both can fall asleep right after 11 p.m., even after drinking a huge mug of Americano. Your office colleague who drinks six shots of espresso a day and still can't get his head up probably has a pair of fast-acting CYP1A2 genes. Some of us can stand all day with a glass of filter coffee and even suffer from heart palpitations. The fast or slow operation of our CYP1A2 gene determines who we are.
Those who consume coffee are in a lower risk group for many types of cancer. It has many positive effects like this: It reduces headaches and muscle aches, gives satiety, accelerates fat burning, helps prevent diseases such as diabetes type II, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, is beneficial for the liver and contains many beneficial components. Riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), niacin (vitamin B3), magnesium, potassium and manganese are some of them. But the side effects do not stop counting: Anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, tension and tremors, high blood pressure, palpitations, withdrawal… So what should we do? Do we have to give up coffee (or rather caffeine) altogether?
Experts emphasize that there is no such thing as the right amount of coffee/caffeine. Everyone has the right amount of the CYP1A2 gene, our mental and physical disease background, our pace of life. The important thing is to be aware of our consumption and to be aware that after how many cups of coffee our sleep quality and therefore our health deteriorate.
Another important point is this: Actually, we do not need coffee. There are many alternatives with or without caffeine. Among the caffeine-free alternatives, the turmeric-based drink known as 'golden milk', enriched with other spices, stands out. Lemon water and rooibos tea are other alternatives. Those who want to continue their morning routine with a decaffeinated but coffee-like beverage should definitely try chicory coffee. There are also options for those who insist on caffeine: Chai tea, yerba mate, kombucha and matcha contain caffeine, although in lesser amounts than coffee. The good news is that you get the caffeine you need, especially by consuming matcha, but you can avoid the negative side effects of coffee.
Among these alternatives, matcha stands out one (or even a few) steps. Consumption of matcha has become so widespread now that it goes without saying what it is. To put it briefly, matcha is a kind of green tea; Alternatively, instead of soaking the young green tea leaves in hot water and drinking them, you consume the green tea leaves, which have been ground to a powdery consistency, by mixing them with water or your food.
Yes, coffee is a good performance enhancer, but the energy it gives is short-lived. While the stimulating effect of caffeine decreases, the energy fluctuations you experience sometimes cause more harm than good due to the negative side effects we have just mentioned. When you consume matcha tea instead of coffee, you do not experience a surge of energy. Amino acids and L-theanine, which are found in high amounts in matcha, provide a balanced attention and concentration to the person. Matcha, like coffee, helps prevent cancer and cardiovascular ailments, as well as detoxify the body. The energy you get from Matcha takes you for 3-6 hours, without fluctuations. Matcha is also beneficial for oral hygiene. Not to mention its benefits to the skin and its anti-aging effects.
Whether you continue with coffee, limit your consumption, or turn to alternatives such as matcha… The important thing is to reconsider the relationship we have established with these drinks, which we think we owe our energy and concentration to, and to find the right dose and the most beneficial drink according to our lifestyle and genetic background.
The views expressed in this article are written to shed light on alternative studies and to encourage conversation about these studies. Even if the articles contain the advice of physicians to some extent, they are for informational purposes only. This text; cannot replace professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.
More for the curious:
1- The War on Coffee, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/04/27/the-war-on-coffee
2- The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body, https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body#1
3- The Case For Drinking Coffee Is Stronger Than Ever, https://time.com/4768860/is-coffee-good-for-you/#:~:text=Like%20so%20many%20foods%20and,cup% 20of%20java%20per%20day.
4- Meet CYP1A2, The Caffeine Gene, https://www.parsleyhealth.com/blog/cyp1a2-effects-of-caffeine-on-the-body/
5- The Unfiltered Details of My Morning Routine – Dr.Robin Berzin, https://www.parsleyhealth.com/blog/weekdayroutineforwellness/
About the author:
Elvin Vural – Editor / Translator
Graduated from Boğaziçi University Sociology and Political Science & International Relations Double Major Program in 2012, Elvin Vural completed his master's degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at University College London in 2013 and conducted the field research of his thesis on forced migration in Bulgaria and Turkey. also conducted. He took postgraduate courses from Istanbul Technical University, Department of Art History and Mimar Sinan University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Museology Program. She worked as a projects and events coordinator at the contemporary art gallery Mixer. Since 2015, he has been the editor of publications such as IstanbulArtNews and Bone Magazine, and the publishing coordinator of the popular science-themed Boğaziçi Magazine published by Boğaziçi University Alumni Association. Vural, whose articles and interviews are published in print and digital media such as Milliyet Sanat, Sanat Atak, Sanat Online, Artful Living, Unlimited, has two book translations from English to Turkish. Nowadays, writing in online and printed media such as Milliyet Sanat, Hürriyet, Marie-Claire and be.people; To translate and edit books for publishing houses such as Metis Publishing, Kolektif Kitap, Kaplumbaa Kitap; continues to independently carry out market research projects for companies.