It’s three o’clock. You’ve still got a long day ahead. You grab an afternoon coffee. Do you end up tossing and turning all night, paying the price for your indulgence? Or do you sleep like a baby as if caffeine was never in your system at all. It turns out, what happens to you is predetermined by your DNA.
There are dozens of reasons to drink or not drink coffee. Is it good for you? Is it harmful? Why can your friend drink six shots of espresso while you get the shakes if you have more than one?
Research on caffeine and coffee consumption is conflicting and confusing at best. But it seems that the reason some of us tolerate coffee better than others may lie in our genes. Certain variations in DNA allow caffeine to be processed differently by each body. Those who process caffeine very slowly are usually the ones who experience adverse side effects such as disturbed sleep when consuming too much coffee. Those who are genetically quick metabolizers are the ones who can guzzle a few shots, kick butt for a few hours and then hit the pillow, snug and serene.
According to recent research, genetics may explain the reason that coffee research is conflicting. When you separate slow metabolizers from fast metabolizers, it becomes clear that many of the adverse effects of coffee are experienced by slow metabolizerswhile fast metabolizers actually reap benefits.
For instance, coffee has long been associated with heart attack risk in conflicting ways. Recent research showed that four or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a 36 percent increased risk of heart attack. However, when looking at that data through genetics, separating the fast metabolizers from the slow, it seems that the likelihood of heart attack increased only in slow metabolizers. Those who were genetically predetermined to process caffeine quickly did not experience a significant rise in heart attack risk with increased coffee consumption. Coffee is actually healthy for some people while it is more harmful for others, which is why massive studies can yield confusing results.
This only goes to shed light on how important individuality and genetics are becoming in health and wellness research. Knowing your genetics might be the key to tailoring your diet and lifestyle to suit your individual, inherent needs. While genetics are only a part of the picture that includes environmental and lifestyle factors, they can help to round out a complete picture to help you achieve your ideal health.
So is coffee healthy? In short, some people can handle coffee, some people can’t. Knowing more about yourself means you can regulate your caffeine intake to best suit your health. The thing is, you don’t need a DNA test to understand how well you tolerate caffeine. Jut taper off your caffeine consumption for a month (I know that’s blasphemous, but it is in the name of prolonged health!) and slowly add it back in.
How do you react? Are you jittery? Are you anxious? If you experience any unpleasant symptoms, it’s probably time to tighten the belt of your coffee addiction. I know coffee is a beautiful thing, but you’ll feel a whole lot better if you drink it only occasionally. If you are a fast metabolizer and thrive on caffeine, congratulations. Just be sure not to overdo it.