HealthWake up and smell the coffee?

Wake up and smell the coffee?

I have always loved coffee and anything coffee flavoured.  I was drinking double espresso’s long before it became “a thing”.  In a company I once worked for I was thought very weird because I refused to drink the muck served in the vending machine and brought in my own real coffee and cafetiere.  I became known as the Coffee Queen, and soon everyone in my section was contributing to the real coffee fund and taking it in turns to brew up a cafetiere of the good stuff (much to the envy of the other sections in the open plan office!).

However, as time went on, menopause hit, and sleep became more of an issue, I began to wonder if coffee really was my friend.  I started to notice that my gut often felt very acidic after drinking coffee, my pee smelt awful (!), and I noticed that I was getting rather short tempered and irritable, especially after a night of poor sleep. 

Sure enough, when I did my first genetic test it confirmed that I don’t process caffeine well.    There are two genes involved with processing caffeine:  

  1. ADORA2A – a variant in this gene confers increased sensitivity to caffeine
  2. CYP1A2 – a variant in this gene means a slow metaboliser of caffein

The half-life of caffeine is normally 12 hours.  (The half-life is the time a substance stays in the body).  I have a variant on the CYP1A2 gene meaning that  for me caffeine has a greater stimulatory effect and for longer.  That explains the sleeplessness and the irritability. 

These days, I have to be careful to limit caffeine.  I allow myself one cup (2 cups max) of caffeinated tea per day, and use decaffeinated coffee.  

Quality is important

Tea and coffee can be a great source of anti-oxidants, polyphenols and fibre.  There is a good deal of evidence to support a variety of health benefits of both (if you’re not sensitive to caffeine – see above).  You do not, however, get these benefits from instant coffee – it has to be real.

The other factor to bear in mind is that tonnes of pesticides and herbicides are used in both tea and coffee production so try to chose organic where you can.

I use Clipper Organic Tea (and the tea bags are un-bleached. Who wants to drink bleach?!)

My favourite coffee at the moment is Waitrose No 1 Organic Peruvian Decaf Coffee –

And if I’m working and feeling in need of a little mental stimulation, I will add in a half a teaspoon of a coffee & mushroom blend (but only before midday!)  There’s some rubbish mushroom coffee’s on the market but this one is really good:  Kiki Organic Mushroom Coffee:

It contains 100% Arabica freeze dried coffee plus Shitake, Lion’s Mane and Reishi mushrooms.

Expensive but my clients get 10% off and a little goes a long way.