Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Caffeinator (He'll be back real quick)

We at the Ripsaw enjoy a strong, punch-in-the-face type cup of coffee in the morning, be it Sumatran, Ethiopian or plain or Starbucksy Arabica Breakfast Blend. Indeed, caffeine is often hailed by yours truly as a brain enhancer, a focus accelerant and an all around answer to life in the early hours of the day.=New research, however, shows there is a darker side to caffeine, and it's not all French Roast.

Caffeine mucks with insulin in diabetes.

Caffeine increases risk of miscarriage.

I think there's a unifier here. Caffeine works its magic by keeping a molecule known as cAMP from degrading. With lots of cAMP around, the brain can continue functioning when it would typically trigger fatigue and sleepiness as cAMP levels dropped. Keep the supply fresh and you can go much longer, so to speak.

Here's the thing: cAMP is a nigh-universal metabolic messenger, and is involved in both the metabolism of food as well as complex parts of the reproductive pathways. If you keep cAMP high through caffeine dosing, you're unbalancing something in the body, and in the case of diabetics or pregnant women, there's a much bigger risk involved.

Not that this should keep you from your favorite caffeinated beverage of choice, but perhaps coffee isn't the panacea wunderdrug we'd all like it to be.


Heatherbeast said...

cAMP indeed! Hence the stool-softening properties of caffeine.

Peg Dae said...

I found that after not using caffeine, I do not have the "dependence" some people have who drink coffee regularly. Any thoughts? You can e-mail me or talk on Friday.