Tag Archives: Caffeine

Stay away from “bulletproof coffee”

16 Dec

The New York Times reports on a new dietary fad called bulletproof coffee:

“The recipe — a riff on the yak butter tea Mr. Asprey found restorative while hiking in Tibet — calls for low-mold coffee beans; at least two tablespoons of unsalted butter (grass-fed, which is higher in Omega 3s and vitamins); and one to two tablespoons of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, a type of easily digestible fat. Mr. Asprey claims having the 450-plus-calorie cup of coffee instead of breakfast suppresses hunger, promotes weight loss and provides mental clarity.”

There is no doubt that caffeine can enhance certain cognitive functions, but the claim that butter has brain enhancing effects is questionable.  In fact, there is evidence that saturated fats may increase your risk of dementia.

Alexithymia and caffeine consumption

16 Oct

Alexithymia is the inability to describe emotional states. A study, published in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, reports that alexithymia may be linked to high caffeine consumption:

“Alexithymia refers to difficulties with identifying, describing, and regulating one’s own emotions. This trait dimension has been linked to risky or harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs; however, the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, caffeine, has not been examined previously in relation to alexithymia. The present study assessed 106 male and female university students aged 18-30 years on their caffeine use in relation to several traits, including alexithymia. The 18 participants defined as alexithymic based on their Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) scores reported consuming nearly twice as much caffeine per day as did non-alexithymic or borderline alexithymic participants. They also scored significantly higher than controls on indices of frontal lobe dysfunction as well as anxiety symptoms and sensitivity to punishment. In a hierarchical linear regression model, sensitivity to punishment negatively predicted daily caffeine intake, suggesting caffeine avoidance by trait-anxious individuals. Surprisingly, however, TAS-20 alexithymia scores positively predicted caffeine consumption. Possible reasons for the positive relationship between caffeine use and alexithymia are discussed, concluding that this outcome is tentatively consistent with the hypo-arousal model of alexithymia.”



The genetics of coffee consumption

13 Oct

A paper in the journal Molecular Psychiatry reports on six genetic loci linked to coffee consumption. You can find the abstract here. PBS has a good summary.

“Findings published today in Molecular Psychiatry confirm the long suspected belief that genetics determine coffee drinking behavior. Scientists have now pinpointed six new gene variations that are more common in those who gulp down the caffeinated beverage frequently.

That’s in addition to two previously identified genetic variants that each code for biological traits. We now have eight loci on record that account for an underlying propensity to drink coffee.

The large-scale study of 120,000 regular consumers provided researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham Women’s hospital with ample data. In analyzing the subjects’ genetic makeup via DNA sequencing and comparing it to self-reported coffee drinking figures, the scientists were able to determine why some people need more of the stimulant than others for optimal caffeine effect.”

Is coffee good for us? Dr. Greger weighs in:

Caffeine deaths may be under-reported

16 Jul

Caffeine is the world’s most popular psychoactive drug and it is known to enhance certain cognitive processes. Beyond this, moderate coffee and tea consumption may have additional health benefits.

However, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports the widespread availability of  powdered caffeine and some high caffeine beverages may have resulted in a number of deaths:

“It’s difficult to get a lethal dose from caffeinated drinks because the stimulant also dehydrates its drinkers, she said. People who drink coffee and energy drinks urinate more frequently, and expel some of the caffeine from their system.

Espresso shots and powders have a much higher concentration of caffeine, making it easier to ingest a harmful amount.”

The article points to evidence that the number of caffeine deaths may be under-reported:


This video from Dr. Greger discusses both the benefits of caffeine and the dangers of caffeine overdose.



Coffee and memory

13 Jan

A study published in Nature Neuroscience reports on the effects of coffee on memory. Caffeine is known to improve attention and attention is a prerequisite for memory. However the effects of caffeine on memory independent of attention have been unclear.

In this study, the participants drank coffee after being exposed to the learning material. Thus, they were not experiencing the attention enhancing effects of coffee while learning. The results:

“We conclude that caffeine enhanced consolidation of long-term memories in humans.”

What is the latest thinking on the health effects of coffee? Dr. Greger gives us the data:

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