Coffee: Is it right for your genes?

Coffee — is it good or bad for you? Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, second only to tea. It is sometimes controversial due to its caffeine content.

Large, population-wide studies have shown many benefits of coffee consumption including decreasing the risks of heart disease, endometrial cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, cirrhosis, prostate cancer, and stroke. On the other hand, large population studies often miss an individual’s reaction to a substance, and coffee’s benefits can vary based on your genes.

Coffee Consumption

Studies have shown many benefits of coffee consumption including decreased risk of:

  • endometrial cancer
  • diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease,
  • liver cancer
  • cirrhosis
  • prostate cancer
  • stroke
  • heart disease

Antioxidants in Coffee

Coffee is actually the “number one source of antioxidants in the U.S diet, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Stanton”.[ref]

In brewed coffee, there are several micronutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and niacin, available in somewhat significant levels, but variations in soil nutrients, processing, and brewing do make a difference in the micronutrient levels per cup.[ref]

Caffeine affects people differently

Whether you start your morning with a cup of coffee or a cup of tea, caffeine remains the most popular ‘drug’ of choice for a large percentage of the population.

Caffeine wakes us up by blocking the adenosine receptor.  Caffeine also acts as a central nervous system stimulant, increasing reaction time.

Genetics determines how quickly your body processes and eliminates the caffeine and whether it is likely to make you jittery or anxious.

Adenosine Receptors:

Adenosine is a molecule used in the body for a variety of purposes. One action of adenosine is it makes us feel sleepy at the end of the day.  Adenosine builds up in the brain over the course of the day, and then is cleared out more quickly at night. Higher levels of adenosine make us feel sleepy, driving us to go to sleep at night.

Caffeine can also bind to the adenosine receptors in the brain, blocking the receptors and making you feel more alert.

Changes to the adenosine A2A receptor gene (ADORA2A) also gives rise to the variations in how we respond to caffeine. Changes in the way the adenosine receptor functions, due to genetic variants, can alter a person’s response to caffeine.[ref]

Coffee Sensitivity Genes:

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About the Author:
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering and an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.