Every once in a while, a coffee hater will attack one of our social media channels with the same fervor with which the elderly peasant woman in The Princess Bride yells at Buttercup in her dream, "Boo! Rubbish! Filth! Slime! Muck! Boo!" The coffee hater attacks our health messages, usually by listing the detrimental effects of caffeine (some are true, some are myths or half-truths). We don't delete these posts. They allow us to revisit what we know about caffeine and coffee, and often we find new research that helps us study and learn more about our products.
Coffee “beans” (seeds of the coffee plant) have been badmouthed for hundreds of years due to that notorious compound, caffeine. At Purity Coffee®, however, we will continue to repeat the phrase, "Coffee is more than caffeine." There are hundreds of compounds in coffee, many as potent as caffeine (like chlorogenic acid), but they don't produce such immediately noticeable effects as caffeine.
Because our mission is to improve the world's health through coffee, we feel it is essential to present a balanced, scientific approach to explaining the health benefits—and potential detriments—to our customers and what we are doing to provide the healthiest product possible. The end of this article will give you a glimpse of new developments at Purity Coffee® coming soon that can help calm the struggle of the caffeine-and-health debate.
A few years ago, we wrote some general information on caffeine and how it works in the body. We have learned quite a lot since then and want to update some points about caffeine that were missing from that article. When medical professionals advise people not to drink coffee, we believe it is primarily because of the caffeine. There are legitimate concerns about caffeine intake with certain health conditions or medications.
Everybody metabolizes caffeine differently.
Within 10 minutes of drinking coffee, the stomach and first part of the intestine absorb the caffeine, reaching the maximum concentration in the bloodstream within about an hour. The cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) enzyme is primarily responsible for metabolizing caffeine in the liver, and genetics have a significant impact on how this enzyme functions. Some individuals carry genetic variations that cause them to metabolize caffeine quickly, while others metabolize caffeine slowly. Fast metabolizers may experience a shorter-lived caffeine buzz and potentially fewer side effects. In contrast, slow metabolizers can be more sensitive to caffeine, experiencing heightened effects and an increased risk of adverse reactions like jitteriness and insomnia.
Medications can impact caffeine metabolization.
It is also important to note that age, pregnancy, liver health, diet, smoking habits and certain medications (e.g., omeprazole) increase the activity of CYP1A2, while many clinical drugs such as theophylline, fluvoxamine, quinolone antibiotics, verapamil, cimetidine, and oral contraceptives can inhibit CYP1A2 activity, influencing how caffeine is metabolized. All these factors make the processing of caffeine a highly personalized experience for each person.
Caffeine may adversely interact with medications.
In addition to these variables, continual consumption of caffeine can lead to tolerance. Because several drug interactions may occur between caffeine and medications, patients taking caffeine-containing medicine or coffee drinkers taking drugs that interact with CYP1A2 may require dosage adjustments or need to avoid coffee altogether.
Drug interactions between caffeine and other psychoactive drugs may lead to caffeine-related or medication-related side effects. For example, using ketamine in combination with caffeine enhances its stimulant responses and lethal risk, suggesting a potentially toxic interaction, and the interaction between caffeine and antiepileptic drugs can increase seizure frequency. Caffeine can increase the effects of stimulants such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which can cause nervousness, anxiety, or heart problems. It can also decrease the effects of sedatives, such as diazepam or lorazepam, which can cause drowsiness, confusion, or impaired coordination.
Given the number and complex nature of potential interactions with medications, it is important to consult with your physician and get their recommendations around the level of caffeine consumption that may be right for you.
Caffeine can exacerbate the health impacts of stress.
Being mindful of caffeine consumption during times of significant stress is also advised. Caffeine activates the stress axis, elevating glucocorticoid and catecholamine output and increasing blood pressure. As such, caffeine intake during times of stress may contribute to the duration and magnitude of blood pressure and stress endocrine responses. People who do not regularly consume caffeine have a particularly negative impact on the steroid hormone cortisol that the adrenal gland secretes. However, those same responses to caffeine are lessened, but not eliminated, in healthy young people who consume caffeine daily.
Cortisol is our primary stress hormone that slows down bodily functions that would be nonessential or harmful in a fight-or-flight situation. As such, cortisol increases glucose in the bloodstream and the availability of substances in the body that repair tissues. Cortisol also helps regulate energy balance, so disturbances in secretion have harmful consequences if sustained for prolonged periods. This speaks directly to getting good, non-disturbed sleep, which is key to overall good health and avoiding illness, so there is a balance between drinking coffee at the right time and avoiding caffeine at least 8 hours before going to bed if it disturbs your sleep.
Caffeine can have potential health benefits.
No doubt, caffeine is a compound that has strong effects on health. The list of positive effects of caffeine in coffee is long—and not just dealing with wakefulness or focus. Thousands of studies with hundreds of thousands of subjects show that natural coffee with its caffeine intact (not just laboratory-created caffeine) has been shown to potentially (everyone is different) be beneficial in:
- Protecting against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's by enhancing brain function, stimulating neuronal growth, and reducing inflammation.
- Reducing the likelihood of depression by modulating mood, neurotransmitters, and hormonal levels.
- Supporting weight management by increasing energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and appetite suppression.
- Lowering the risk of some types of cancer by inhibiting DNA damage, inducing apoptosis, and modulating immune responses.
How can you decide how much caffeine is healthy for yourself? How can you make changes if you feel you need to do so?
Know your numbers.
For healthy adults, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established 400 milligrams of caffeine a day as an amount not associated with adverse effects. For some people, that is way too much caffeine; for others, it may be an average amount. Purity Coffee's caffeine content differs depending on the product. We sent our Pocket Purity sachets to the advanced nutritional laboratory specializing in coffee at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The scientists there prepared our Pocket Purity sachets according to our instructions. Here are the caffeine results:
You should get equivalent results if you prepare your Purity coffee with about 13 to 15 grams of medium-fine grind and use near-boiling water. Our pods have fewer grams in them (10g to 11.5g), and pod brewers tend to brew more quickly at lower temperatures, so caffeine will be less in pods than the Pocket Purity sachets. We didn't test the pods because the wide variation in machine functionality would not be a fair representation.
Listen to your body.
Maintaining moderate levels of caffeine consumption may be the correct answer for you if you experience:
- Enhanced alertness and concentration
- Greater mental clarity and cognitive function
- Improved physical endurance
- Elevated mood
It may be time to think about changing your habits or patterns of caffeine consumption if you find yourself suffering from any of these negative symptoms:
- Fast heart rate
- Upset stomach
- Headache or migraine
- Constant state of stress
The specific brand and type of coffee you choose is also significant, as it might not be the caffeine causing these harmful side effects. Some of these symptoms may be experienced due to drinking inferior-quality coffee that contains mycotoxins, heavy metals, contaminants and trace elements of other toxic compounds.
If you're used to consuming caffeinated coffee or other caffeine daily and decide to cut back, it's best to do that gradually. While caffeine withdrawal symptoms are not considered dangerous, you may experience headaches, anxiety or other negative side effects if you cut back too aggressively. Blending caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee can be one way to ease back, but you may also consider talking to your healthcare provider about different strategies to find the right balance for you.
Choose a Fabulous Decaffeinated Coffee: A new and improved CALM Decaf has arrived at Purity Coffee®
We've written about decaf in several blog posts on our website. The main update we have is this: Our coffee department has sourced a beautiful coffee for our decaf that meets and exceeds Purity standards, and it is available now from our website (and on Amazon beginning January 2024). The coffee is a single origin from Finca Santa Maria, Bucaramanga, Colombia.
One of the less-known issues in the coffee industry is that many coffee lots sent for decaffeination are often old coffee that didn't sell or lower-grade coffee. This is NOT the case with Purity Calm.
We are bringing the highest quality coffee directly from the farm at regular intervals throughout the year (so it is always the freshest) to the warehouse of the Swiss Water® Decaffeination facility outside of Vancouver, Canada. We believe this is the healthiest, freshest, and best-tasting decaf available in the U.S. today. The coffee is:
- Certified Organic and Specialty-Grade: This is the highest quality in health and taste.
- Certified Bird Friendly (the only decaf we know on the market with this seal): The farm is regenerative and maintains critical forests, trees and the natural environment.
- Certified Con Manos de Mujer: Currently, 22 women (all heads of household) run the farm, collectively deciding on everything from leadership to quality control.
- Certified Swiss Water® Decaffeinated: A proprietary, all-natural method of removing caffeine from coffee beans by using water and charcoal filters without adding any chemicals or altering the flavor of the coffee.
The women of Finca Santa Maria, who produce the coffee used in Purity Calm.
Mindfully managing your caffeine consumption does not need to mean cutting it out of your diet completely, but rather developing a harmonious relationship that benefits your overall well-being and gives you a sense of balance.
Are there other caffeine-related questions you’d like answers to? We’d love to hear from you!
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