How do Your Genes Help Breakdown Caffeine?
It comes to no surprise when we say caffeine is the single most consumed natural, psychoactive substance in the world. In North America, 90% of adults have at least one caffeinated beverage daily. From energy drinks, sodas, tea, coffee, to chocolate – the options are endless!
Although most of us enjoy caffeine, the way we react to it is a whole other story. We can discover this by digging deeper into your genes. But first, let’s begin with what coffee does to our body.
How Caffeine Stimulates the Brain
Caffeine is a chemical compound that stimulates the central nervous system. It does so by counteracting adenosine molecules that slow down neuron activity before we sleep. Thus, creating a sensation of reduction of fatigue and increased energy. Caffeine also increases adrenaline levels which results in more dopamine and norepinephrine activity further stimulating pleasure/reward centers of the brain.
Some people may avoid caffeine due to the onset of anxiety, jitters and insomnia. These side effects may originate from the variation in your genetic code. The variation in our genes has an impact on how we metabolize and regulate caffeine intake.
Caffeine Metabolism and Genetics
The Genome Buddy collection kit paired with our companion app delivers insights into intergenic genes in your DNA that may be associated to the caffeine effects you experience. The gene CYP1A2 for example produces a liver enzyme that metabolizes caffeine and works in conjunction with AHR genes that control the amount of enzyme that affects caffeine breakdown.
People with greater genetic predisposition to metabolize caffeine faster are more likely to drink more caffeinated beverages than the average person in a day. However, if you are someone who metabolizes caffeine more slowly then you are likely to consume less caffeinated beverages than someone who metabolizes it more quickly. This means the substance is circulating in your bloodstream for longer and you may experience higher probability of unwanted side effects.
Opt for Herbal Tea
If you want to avoid caffeine altogether there are alternatives you can try that may be better suited for your body and genes. Instead of reaching for coffee, try herbal teas that have zero caffeine content such as ginger or peppermint tea which produce calming effects on the nervous and digestive system.
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