Are there benefits to our coffee obsession? Should we have a no-espressos-after-lunch rule? Do we all process caffeine the same way?
We asked registered dietician, Monica Auslander, to get to the espresso of the matter:
“Every individual has a genetic variation that dictates how fast (or slow) they metabolise caffeine,” says Auslander. “This also gets combined with individual tolerance, since caffeine is indeed, a drug. ALSO – caffeine has a rather long half-life, so if you had coffee at 2 PM, it could still be swirling around in your system at bedtime and disrupt sleep. This means that you might be a person that needs to have a cut-off time in the day, or you may be able to drift off in bed nursing a cappuccino.”
So, are there any real pros to consuming caffeine?
“[It] does indeed increase alertness/mental focus/energy. So drink up before a big meeting or when you need to tunnel into a project. It’s also ergogenic (ie. enhances athletic performance); so it’s wise to have about 20 minutes before a workout. And there is a lot of evidence to suggest coffee beans have anti-inflammatory qualities and that they help fight cognitive decline.”
Okay, so what are the cons?
“Firstly, it’s a gastrointestinal irritant, so if you’re sensitive there… be careful. Secondly, do not adulterate your beverage with funky syrups/sweeteners/creamers. A splash of grass-fed plain milk or unsweetened nut milk is great, so is a little cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, vanilla, cacao or mint.”
“Also, don’t let it displace water. Yes, coffee counts towards your fluid #goals, but the ultimate hydrator is water. And if you are dependent on it; meaning you literally cannot function without some cray amount (like four or more cups); we may need to reevaluate your life a bit and I’d rather you glean energy from sleep, controlling stress, and nourishing foods, than 6 cups of coffee a day.”
If you’re trying to up your sleep game but don’t want to give up your favourite caffeinated beverage, take Releaf Theanine, a caffeine antagonist which may temporarily promote relaxation and help maintain healthy sleep patterns.