Genetics, smoking, and medications can affect how the body reacts to caffeinated beverages.
Not everyone perceives coffee in the same way / photo UNIAN
The taste of coffee is not the same for all people. How we perceive coffee, whether we like its taste, and even how it affects our risk of heart attack or hypertension, is largely determined by our genes.
And exactly one gene – CYP1A2 strongly affects the body’s sensitivity to caffeine. CYP1A2 controls the enzyme, also called CYP1A2, which is responsible for breaking down caffeine and removing it from the body, writes The Washington Post.
As Ahmed El-Sohemy, professor of dietetics at the University of Toronto, explained, about half of all people have two copies of the “fast” variant of CYP1A2, which makes them “fast” metabolizers of caffeine. Another 40% have only one copy and are “slow” metabolizers, while the remaining 10%, who have no copies, are “ultra slow”.
Depending on your metabolism, it can take anywhere from two to eight hours to eliminate half of the caffeine from your body. But the rate at which caffeine is metabolized isn’t the only factor that affects how you feel when you drink coffee or caffeinated beverages.
As noted by Manuel Diaz-Rios, director of the neurobiology program at Bowdoin College, caffeine works by binding to adenosine receptors in the brain, which affect a person’s need for sleep, and blocks their activation. But the number of these receptors in the brain is determined both by genetics and by the amount of caffeine you regularly consume. For example, if you constantly drink a lot of coffee and these channels are constantly blocked, the body compensates for this by creating more adenosine receptors. It takes more caffeine to achieve the same effect, thereby increasing your sensitivity to caffeine.
But some people, Diaz-Rios said, have naturally higher starting levels of some neuroreceptors than others. And “if you’re someone who genetically just makes a lot of these receptors, you’re probably going to be less sensitive to caffeine” than others. These people have so many adenosine receptors that regular or even excessive amounts of coffee will not block them all.
“If you have genetic variants that allow you to absorb caffeine more quickly, you’re more likely to consume more caffeine,” said Marilyn Cornelis, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Genetics can also influence coffee preference. Studies have shown that people with genetic variants associated with high sensitivity to caffeine are less likely to enjoy the bitter taste of dark coffee.
Caffeine sensitivity isn’t just about whether you feel energized after drinking coffee. The genetics of caffeine sensitivity also play a role in cardiovascular health.
For example, researchers found that for people with slow metabolisms, drinking more cups of coffee per day was associated with an increased risk of heart attack. People with fast metabolism did not have such increased risks.
People with slow metabolisms who drink a lot of coffee also have a higher risk of developing other diseases, such as hypertension and kidney disease. El-Sohemy noted that these results mean that when caffeine lingers in the blood, it can cause tissue damage in the body, although how this happens is not clear. Maybe people with fast metabolisms break down caffeine fast enough to do no harm.
In addition, according to scientists, the effects of caffeine can vary greatly from person to person. Oral contraceptives can reduce CYP1A2 activity and increase sensitivity to caffeine. Smoking increases CYP1A2 activity, allowing smokers to absorb caffeine more quickly.
And people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can react differently to caffeine. In people with ADHD, the brain is often understimulated and doesn’t get enough dopamine, said Sarah Karalunas of Purdue University. Because caffeine is a stimulant that can increase the production of dopamine in the brain, taking it can bring a person with ADHD out of that deficit and into a more optimal level of functioning, she said. But caffeine can cause overstimulation in those taking ADHD medication. These drugs work by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, so adding caffeine can lead to side effects.
Benefits of coffee
Scientists have long known about the benefits of coffee. So, studies have shown that this drink has a positive effect on the brain activity of even those people who often lack sleep.
And the British doctor Michael Mosley named the maximum number of cups of coffee that should be drunk per day. He noted that this amount of drink will improve the health of the brain and heart.
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