Coffee’s Impact on The Body
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Despite my days of seeking out the best quality beans and grinding them fresh each morning being long gone, I’ve had coffee brain recently. How is that possible? You might ask, after years without a cup? Well it’s all a matter of chemistry.
The chemistry in holistic nutrition
Back when I was initially studying nutrition, and diving deep into hard-core sciences, I had a cousin (who happened to be studying to be a nurse) say to me: That’s interesting that you think of nutrition on a chemical level. I never would have thought about it like that.
Here’s the thing, chemistry is happening in your body, every millisecond of every day. There’s no way to escape it (thankfully!). When you eat, a chemical processes take place to break down the food and utilize the nutrients and constituents of that food. Obviously, your cells don’t eat that burger and fries for lunch. They don’t even eat a green smoothie! Instead that burger becomes an amino acid and the smoothie and fries become glucose to feed your cells, but only with the help of some major mechanical and chemical processes in your digestive system.
Coffee, chemistry, and mood
Just what are you brewing inside your body when you drink that daily cup of coffee?
You’ll be pleased to know there’s significant research showing the many health benefits of coffee. The research spans from looking at the other stimulants besides caffeine contained in coffee, like theobromine (also contained in raw chocolate and which translates in Greek to theobroma, or “food of the gods”) to the advantages of a dark roast vs. a light roast on the health of stomach acid. Researchers even defend their morning cup of Joe!
Whether coffee does the body good really depends on the body! Like I said, it’s all a matter of chemistry. Coffee is primarily consumed for its mood elevating and stimulating effects which take place about 30 minutes after ingestion. Those energizing results are due to coffee’s ability to increase both dopamine and adrenaline in your brain. Dopamine is the feel-good and pleasure chemical that makes you feel enlivened and in charge; adrenaline is associated with drive and motivation. The payoff is that you feel more alert and galvanized to tackle whatever is on your plate.
The catch – Adenosine block
Just like that Grande Latte, the dopamine and adrenaline rush don’t come without a price. Coffee blocks a brain chemical called adenosine, which usually helps regulate dopamine release and plays a significant role in energy transfer at a cellular level (think ATP and ADP), moderating inflammation, and maintaining heart health. The longer you’re awake, the more adenosine you produce. When coffee interferes, it disrupts the natural process, which can affect your sleep among other things.
You know how they say everything you say and do has a cause and effect, like karma? Well, the same goes for what you eat, drink, and consume. Take a moment to reflect on the consequences of your daily grub on your body and mind. Your choices might be influencing your sleep, energy levels, and general health. It’s all connected!
Holistic nutrition recipe: Mocha Dandy Latte
I can’t leave you without a treat! How about a Mocha Dandy Latte recipe? It’s caffeine-free, kid friendly, and just as delicious as your morning cup of coffee. Whip it up and enjoy the delightful flavors while knowing you’re being kind to your body.
Mocha Dandy Latte
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup nut, hemp or coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons Dandy Blend (gluten-free coffee substitute)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons raw cacao powder
- 1 dropper full of liquid stevia
- shake of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil or ghee
- Combine all ingredients except the hot water in a cup or a blender.
- Whisk or blend ingredients until well combined. Transfer to a cup (if using a blender) and add hot water. If you prefer this extra hot, heat the water with the blended contents in a small pot on the stovetop until heated but not boiling.
So, there you have it! The coffee brain mystery solved, all thanks to chemistry. But it’s not all about coffee, it’s about understanding how food meets physiology. Make conscious choices for your unique body and holistic nutrition journey will reward you. Cheers!
Alasmari F. Caffeine induces neurobehavioral effects through modulating neurotransmitters. Saudi Pharm J. 2020;28(4):445-451. doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2020.02.005
Planning Committee for a Workshop on Potential Health Hazards Associated with Consumption of Caffeine in Food and Dietary Supplements; Food and Nutrition Board; Board on Health Sciences Policy; Institute of Medicine. Caffeine in Food and Dietary Supplements: Examining Safety: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2014 Apr 23. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK202230/ doi: 10.17226/18607
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Pharmacology of Caffeine. Nih.gov. Published 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223808/
O’Callaghan F, Muurlink O, Reid N. Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning. Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2018;11:263-271. Published 2018 Dec 7. doi:10.2147/RMHP.S156404Clark I, Landolt HP. Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2017;31:70-78. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.006
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