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Coffee: Is it energy booster or just a placebo?

Coffee: Is it energy booster or just a placebo?

The neurological effects of caffeine and coffee consumption were compared by researchers. They discovered that drinking coffee, but not caffeine, enhances brain activity associated with higher-order cognitive function and visual processing.

Could the effects of coffee on enhancing focus and performance be a placebo effect? A recent study comparing the impact of drinking coffee vs only caffeine suggests that might be the case.

Coffee is frequently consumed first thing in the morning to combat fatigue, maintain alertness, and perform well. Approximately 49% of Americans who are 20 years of age and older and who drink coffee do it daily.

Several distinct chemicals in coffee have diverse effects on the brain. The most well-known of these substances, caffeine, is known to stimulate dopamine circuits that improve memory.

Coffee’s neurochemical effects on the brain are well established, but its psychological consequences are less well understood.

For instance, some study indicates that while coffee consumption may have an impact on cognitive function in non-regular drinkers, it has less of an impact on habitual drinkers due to tolerance development.

According to the same research, a significant portion of caffeine’s and coffee’s stimulating effects may be accounted for by the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms following brief abstinence.

It may be easier to comprehend why individuals consume coffee with the help of more research into how coffee affects the brain.

They discovered that the effects of caffeine and coffee on brain function altered “the connectivity of the default mode network.” This shows that caffeine or coffee consumption facilitated the shift from resting to working on tasks, according to a news release.

Active ingredients in coffee

Numerous bioactive substances found in coffee contribute to its potential for substantial health effects.

Many of these substances are antioxidants, which protect your cells from injury from dangerous free radicals.

The key components of coffee are listed below:

  • Caffeine. Caffeine, which is coffee’s primary active component, activates the central nervous system.
  • Acids chlorogenic. Some biological pathways, including blood sugar metabolism and high blood pressure, may benefit from these polyphenol antioxidants.
  • Cahweol and cafestol. These substances are abundant in unfiltered coffee and are present in the natural oil of coffee.
  • Trigonelline. Since this alkaloid molecule is unstable at high temperatures, it transforms into nicotinic acid, or niacin (vitamin B3), during roasting.

However, the concentrations of these ingredients in a cup of coffee can differ.

Effects of drinking coffee as opposed to only caffeine

47 participants who consumed at least one cup of coffee daily were chosen by the researchers for the study. 31 of them were female, and they were all around the age of 30.

Before taking part in the trial, each participant was instructed to refrain from consuming any caffeinated food or beverages for at least three hours.

The subjects were subjected to two fMRI scans in the lab: one before and one 30 minutes after ingesting caffeine or drinking a cup of coffee. Participants were instructed to unwind and allow their thoughts wander throughout the fMRI scans.

In the end, the researchers discovered that in the default mode network (DMN), both coffee and caffeine decreased functional connectivity.

According to the authors, “self-referential processes when participants are at rest” are connected to the DMN. Reduced DMN, according to the researchers, suggests a higher level of readiness to shift from resting to task-context processing.

They also observed that consumption of coffee, but not caffeine, markedly reduced brain connection between somatosensory and motor networks. This may help to explain why people report having better psychomotor function after consuming caffeinated coffee, according to the researchers.

The executive control and visual networks associated with visual processing and higher-level cognitive function, such as working memory, cognitive control, and goal-directed behaviour, were more active after coffee consumption but not caffeine.

Coffee consumption is a sensory experience.

The researchers hypothesised that the sensory experience of drinking coffee may be the cause of the different effects of ingesting caffeine and drinking coffee.

The additional effects of drinking coffee may be explained by the placebo effect, according to Armargo Couture, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Staten Island University Hospital in New York who was not involved in the study:

Because drinking a cup of coffee in the morning is the social custom in this culture, the placebo effect may be effective in this situation. In essence, many people connect their “morning coffee” with “waking up” and getting ready for the day.

“Many people regularly take their morning cup of coffee after getting out of bed before beginning the day, which naturally comes to be connected with being successful. The idiom “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee” was coined because preparing for the day with a daily cup of coffee is a shared experience and the social norm, she continued.

However, Couture pointed out that other substances in coffee may potentially be the source of its additional effects.

“Coffee’s terpenes, cafestol and kahweol, and polyphenols, including chlorogenic acids, interact with different brain receptors to boost energy, elevate mood, and instill a motivational attitude. According to a study, coffee’s terpenes and polyphenols contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that have also been linked to a lower incidence of depression.

Study limitations for evaluating the effects of coffee

Dr. Teixeira pointed out that the study’s significant shortcomings include the absence of non-drinker or decaf-drinker groups as well as the absence of task-related fMRI data or cognitive tests.

“Rather of directly measuring cognitive function, the researchers used fMRI to examine brain connections. The lay media frequently misinterprets things like this, he said.

“It is also unclear how matched the coffee and caffeine groups were regarding sociodemographic and coffee and/or other caffeinated beverage consumption,” he continued.

We also received the following information from Dr. Gregory S. Carter, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology and Head of the Sleep Medicine Section for the Department of Neurology at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Centre.

The length of time between consuming coffee or other caffeinated beverages and the fMRI’s operation is the main restriction. The caffeine that has been dissolved takes 50–60 minutes to reach its peak blood concentration. The authors tested after 30 minutes, which is a little early especially when the blood-brain barrier’s relatively swift transit is taken into account.

The results are further constrained, according to Dr. Michael J. McGrath, Medical Director at the Ohana Luxury Alcohol Rehab and a board-certified psychiatrist who was not involved in the study, because the researchers did not examine whether the advantages coffee drinkers enjoy are caused by the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms.

Benefits of coffee consumption

According to Couture, “coffee may benefit your mindset towards goals while improving your working memory and cognition. It increased subjects’ executive control.”

She continued, “Those who struggle with executive dysfunction may find that consuming coffee helps by boosting motivation and working memory.

Dr. McGrath added that the findings demonstrate that some advantages of drinking coffee derive from sources other than caffeine. He pointed out that this suggests that consuming decaffeinated coffee in the morning may help increase alertness and focus.


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How coffee helps lower type 2 diabetes risk?

How coffee helps lower type 2 diabetes risk?

A significant new study investigates the mechanisms underlying the well-established link between coffee drinking and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.

According to the study, coffee’s anti-inflammatory characteristics may account for a major portion of its positive effects. Pro-inflammatory biomarkers seem to decrease with coffee consumption while anti-inflammatory biomarkers rise.

Coffee consumption has been associated to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. According to a recent study, the connection is well-established, although the exact mechanism is still unknown.

Another study contends that through reducing subclinical inflammation, coffee consumption may reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes. The advantage was greatest in espresso or filtered ground coffee consumers and non-smokers or never-smokers.

Data set on coffee and type 2 diabetes

The authors of the study examined a sizable data set from participants in two population-based studies: the Rotterdam Study in the Netherlands and the UK Biobank.

The 502,536 participants in the UK Biobank cohort were from England, Scotland, and Wales and enrolled in the study between April 2006 and December 2010. They ranged in age from 37 to 73. Follow-up information on these people became accessible in 2017.

The Rotterdam Study, which started in 1990 and will eventually include 14,929 people, is still ongoing. In 2015, follow-up information was revealed. Researchers found alterations in the levels of type 2 diabetes-associated biomarkers connected to inflammation in the study.

Researchers found that those who increased their daily intake of coffee by just one cup had a 4% lower risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. This reduction in risk was most likely brought about by decreased inflammation, the study’s authors speculate.

The current study’s “main strength is the large number of individuals included in the cohorts, the long follow-up time, and the comprehensive assessment of inflammatory markers,” according to Dr. Angélica Amato, associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Brasil who was not involved in it.

Effects of coffee on inflammation

The Rotterdam Project and the UK Biobank provided the researchers with the 152,479 participants’ health records for evaluation. They examined the daily coffee consumption of the participants, which ranged from 0 to about 6 cups, as well as the prevalence of type 2 diabetes across a 13-year period.

By the use of fasting blood samples, the team also assessed levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), leptin, and adiponectin as well as indicators of insulin resistance.

The researchers discovered that drinking an extra cup of coffee each day was linked to a 4–6% decreased chance of developing diabetes.

Greater levels of interleukin-13 and adiponectin concentrations, which have anti-inflammatory effects, were linked to higher levels of coffee consumption instead of lower levels of CRP and leptin, pro-inflammatory markers. Blood glucose levels can be lowered by adiponectin’s ability to make people more sensitive to insulin.

Researchers believe that drinking coffee can help lower inflammatory biomarkers, which are known to rise in the body when there is inflammation, as is the situation with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers also think that the type of coffee is important because espresso or filtered coffee was more closely related to risk reduction.

According to Andrew Odegaard, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, Irvine, the results are consistent with earlier research that found a relationship between higher levels of coffee consumption and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes across various populations and demographics.

Odegaard noted that more information is required to fully grasp the potential pathways, but that “the mediating estimates of inflammation provide evidence on a major postulated mechanism.”

Enjoy coffee but avoid relying on it

Tan would not necessarily recommend it to individuals wanting to protect themselves. Tan says persons with diabetes and those at risk for the condition should feel comfortable consuming black coffee or espresso.

There are alternative strategies that have been more thoroughly researched to lower the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and general health, according to Tan.

Tan advises increasing physical exercise, reducing inactive time, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, having a balanced diet, and, if at all feasible, avoiding specific drugs that can worsen hyperglycemia in order to reduce one’s chance of developing diabetes.

She exhorts them to consider the kind of coffee they consume. Moreover, Tan remarked, “I would like to caution patients that the study indicated the most benefit from filtered coffee or espresso rather than from coffee beverages that can include very high amounts of sugar and fat.”

Why inflammation matters in diabetes?

Dr. Amato expressed his concern that a longitudinal study like this one could not be used to conclusively prove causality. She did, however, add that “it is most likely that the association between coffee use and reduced type 2 diabetes risk is due to decreased insulin resistance, one of the physiopathological pathways underpinning the development of type 2 diabetes.”

Insulin produced by the pancreas cannot regulate blood sugar levels in persons with type 2 diabetes. These levels are able to escalate dangerously out of control due to such insulin resistance.

According to Dr. Amato, subclinical inflammation, which is reportedly reduced by coffee drinking, has a significant role in insulin resistance.

Dr. Kausel continued, “Adipokine released by adipocytes has anti-inflammatory benefits in addition to making patients more sensitive to insulin. Further enhancing insulin sensitivity and lowering systemic inflammation are coffee’s polyphenol components.

Dr. Ochoa-Rosales advised patients worried about preventing type 2 diabetes to take a stance against inflammation by consuming a diet high in polyphenols from fruits and vegetables.

Smokers don’t get the same coffee benefits

The researchers also discovered that among people who smoke, coffee’s health benefits were less pronounced.

According to Dr. Ochoa-Rosales, “there is a correlation between smoking and higher coffee consumption – heavy coffee consumers are often smokers,” therefore the researchers first considered smoking a confounding factor in their analysis.

Nevertheless, when they investigated the impact of coffee consumption on diabetes risk among smokers, non-smokers, and never-smokers, they discovered that the effect of coffee’s positive relationship with decreased C-reactive protein and type 2 diabetes risk was only present among former- and never-smokers.

Treating and avoiding type 2 diabetes

Although the link between inflammatory markers and cardiovascular disease has been researched, Dr. Kausel pointed out that the new study offers a “fresh perspective.”

However finding increasing your coffee intake won’t likely prevent type 2 diabetes, “anything that lowers these inflammation indicators can be acquired as a daily routine, and since most people consume coffee, it’s a good thing to know,” she continued.

Dr. Ochoa-Rosales noted that there is already increased interest in treatments that target inflammatory indicators as a result of the substantial body of information linking systemic inflammation to the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Amato acknowledged this and suggested that the biomarkers identified in the study could serve as “promising targets” for therapeutic treatment of type 2 diabetes:

“Exploring the precise mechanisms by which the bioactive components of coffee function to elucidate potential targets and pathways that may be addressed to treat or prevent the disease” is another fascinating option.

No matter what new pharmacological targets are discovered as a result of research like this one, Dr. Kausel emphasised that “if individuals don’t start thinking about healthy practises, it will be impossible to avoid the disease.”

Dr. Kausel underlined that eating a good diet is the major component in preventing diabetes.


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