Thursday, October 28, 2010

Coffee Love

Hi, my name is Samantha and I am a coffee-holic.

I love, love, love coffee. I can't start my day without it. Dunkin's French Vanilla is my drink of choice, but really, I'll drink anything with caffeine in a pinch. I come from a long line of enablers coffee drinkers.  We like our morning jolt. It helps us wake up, it allows us to be ready to attack the day, and, most importantly, it is delicious.

Sure there is tons of research about caffeine and how bad it is for you. But, there is also a lot of research out there about the positive effects of caffeine. Just like everything, moderation is the key.

And, if in the morning a few cups of the warm yummy-ness are needed to get me through the day, I think that is A-OK.

So do the people at the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" who claim
Caffeine has an affect on performance, both physical and mental. The underlying mechanism pertaining to the way caffeine works in the body involves the central nervous system. Caffeine has specific effects that occur shortly after consumption.

Caffeine is a substance that is easily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. Then, it travels across the membrane of cells in the brain since it can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier. Because of this, the effects of caffeine are initiated within the central nervous system, according to an article in 2010 in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition." Since the central nervous system is involved with behavior, caffeine can affect physical performance-related areas--bearing in mind that the effects are on the neuronal level and not directly the muscle.

In addition to psychomotor, or movement-related abilities, caffeine also affects cognitive abilities such as alertness, memory and vigilance, according to an article on a study published in 2008 in "Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise." The study found that men who consumed caffeine performed better on tests that involve complex information processing. One such test was the Stroop test, which assesses how fast participants can ignore distractions and name a color word when it is presented in a color different than which its name denotes. For, example, the word "green" would be printed in blue or red ink, but never green.

Even more interestingly, the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published a special supplemental edition to share the findings reported in the study "Therapeutic Opportunities for Caffeine in Alzheimer's Diseases and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases."

Key findings:
  • Multiple beneficial effects of caffeine to normalize brain function and prevent its degeneration
  • Caffeine's neuroprotective profile and its ability to reduce amyloid-beta production
  • Caffeine as a candidate disease-modifying agent for Alzheimer's disease
  • Positive impact of caffeine on cognition and memory performance
  • Identification of adenosine A2A receptors as the main target for neuroprotection afforded by caffeine consumption
  • Confirmation of data through valuable meta-analyses presented
  • Epidemiological studies corroborated by meta-analysis suggesting that caffeine may be protective against Parkinson's disease
  • Several methodological issues must be solved before advancing to decisive clinical trials

Today is a glass mug half full day. And I choose to embrace the positives that go along with coffee drinking. We can save the negatives for another day.


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  2. I too am a coffee-holic. Yum!