We love caffeine; particularly coffee, we use it in a wide variety of tonic and elixir recipes. In fact, the vasodilation effects of caffeine make it the perfect compliment to most medical mushrooms and tonic herbs, ensuring delivery of the medicinal components to every cell.
However, not everyone agrees with our love for caffeine and coffee. They generally receive bad rapt; they are considered "unhealthy" stimulating substances that do the body no good but this isn't factual.
So what we would like to do with you in today's article is to share some clinical research and science behind caffeine. Some you might be aware of, others you might find to be incredibly fascinating. Hopefully, by the end, you at least reconsider coffee’s place in your diet.
The Science-Backed Benefits of Coffee (caffeine)
- Coffee drinkers have lower rates of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer than non-drinkers.
- Caffeine is a liver protectant, especially against the ATP-depleting effects of alcohol, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and other toxins. In general, coffee drinkers have healthier livers than non-drinkers.
- Caffeine is protective against radiation, chemical carcinogens, viruses, and estrogens, all which can attribute to cancer.
- Caffeine works synergistically progesterone, increasing its concentration in blood and tissues. Progesterone is a very protective hormone, it opposes stress hormones like estrogen and is responsible for fertility, and ensuring proper oxidative metabolism.
- Numerous studies show that coffee and caffeine are protective against breast cancer, likely by its anti-estrogen effects.
- Coffee is rich in important anabolic nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin B1.
- Caffeine improves the efficient use of fuel for performance
- Coffee drinkers have a lower incidence of suicide, likely from its dopagenic effects.
- Caffeine supports serotonin uptake in nerves, preventing the excess accumulation of serotonin, which is inflammatory and harmful.
- Coffee drinkers have been found to have lower cadmium in their bodies, likely from coffee's ability to detoxify heavy metals from water.
- Coffee inhibits iron absorption if taken with meals, helping to prevent toxic iron accumulation that can lead to fibrosis, hair loss, and other problems.
- Caffeine contains niacin, which inhibits cell death and protects against stress-induced cell death.
- Caffeine prevents nerve cell death.
- Coffee (or caffeine) increases dopamine and may prevent Parkinson’s Disease
- Caffeine is an antioxidant, stopping the development of free radicals by inhibiting the enzyme xanthine oxidase that causes tissue stress.
- Caffeine lowers potassium after exercise, helping to prevent thrombosis by reducing thromboxane production (the protein that disrupts platelet function).
The Basic Physiological Mechanisms of Caffeine & Coffee
In short, caffeine increases the metabolic rate, thus increasing the cellular utilization of glucose. This is wonderful for the sake of health and energy production; however, this also creates a greater demand for calories and especially carbohydrates or sugar.
Its pro-metabolic effects are attributed to its remarkable parallels to thyroid and progesterone. Coffee is often prescribed against for people with thyroid problems; mostly due to confusion about the pathology of hypothyroid and adrenal function. However, the use of coffee for hypothyroid would be a wonderful idea to compensate for both a thyroid and progesterone deficiency.
Caffeine not only acts similarly to progesterone, but it also increases the concentration of progesterone in the blood and in the brain. Also, caffeine tends to activate thyroid secretion by a variety of mechanisms, increasing cyclic AMP and decreasing serotonin in thyroid cells, and also by lowering the systemic stress mediators like cortisol and prolactin, which interferes with thyroid function.
And in general, thyroid and progesterone while are an effect of oxidative metabolism (energy metabolism), they also tend to shift the metabolism in the direction of optimal energy production via oxidative phosphorylation.
Debunking the Bad-Side of Coffee
Coffee didn't get a bad name for no particular reason; some people do experience ill effects from it. However, this does not make caffeine or coffee objectively "bad".
Most of, if not all, of the negative effects commonly ascribed to coffee, usually trace back to consuming large amounts in a short period of time.
For example, it is commonly said that caffeine raises blood pressure; however, this effect is minimal, and will likely not occur from regular use of coffee. i.e small amounts (1-2 cups) consumed at a slow rate.
Another flaw in this consideration is that is the result of ignoring other important factors. For example, drinking plain water (without minerals) can cause a rise in blood pressure alone; this effect is even stronger on those with slow metabolisms or elderly folk.
Something else, the pro-metabolic effects caffeine produce increase the cellular consumption of glucose, so any experiments done on coffee consumption on an empty stomach are overlooking this effect. When the metabolic rate increases and cellular glucose intake increases, this increases adrenaline also, but this effect would be mitigated by consuming coffee with cream and sugar or with a meal rich in carbohydrates.