Tag Archives: caffeine


When it comes to humans, we’re all just victims of our own biochemistry. Our brains are controlled and ruled by chemicals – from what we eat; to how and when we sleep; even to who we choose as a life partner.[1] Biochemistry – or ‘biological chemistry’ – is concerned with all of the biochemical reactions which take place within our bodies and brains.[2] [3] This means that the simple act of eating a meal is actually composed of thousands of tiny reactions and interactions – on a biochemical level, at least.[4] [5]

Biochemistry is important because it helps us better understand how our bodies work. Biochemistry is most critical to understanding how and what foods to eat and remains a criminally overlooked component of both keeping weight off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.[6] If we can better understand the reactions happening inside our body, we can better understand how to treat ourselves, overall.


The Biochemistry of our Morning Coffee

To better understand the biochemistry of our eating, it will help to look at how a few individual components of a diet affect our biochemistry. For many (if not all) of us, our day begins with the ingestion of a stimulant. Specifically, caffeine. From our morning cup of coffee onwards, many of us feel most energetic after our first dose of caffeine. This is simple to understand from a biochemical perspective – the caffeine is binding to our adenosine receptors, and simply removing our caffeine withdrawal.[7] [8]

Adenosine helps us stay calm and is even related to sleep.[9] Many do not know this, but caffeine binds to the receptors for adenosine. But this also means that it effectively blocks our body from functioning normally.[10] Our bodies love homeostasis, so if we consume large enough quantities of caffeine on a regular basis, they try to remain in balance by creating more and more adenosine receptors.[11] So – you guessed it – the more caffeine we consume, the more we need just to achieve the same mild ‘high’ we got when we first started drinking coffee.[12] Sadly, this is exactly how all drugs work and caffeine – though legal and widespread – is still a drug, biochemically speaking.[13]


The Enormous Impact of Sugar on our Biochemistry

Another huge element of the biochemistry of our food and drink is sugar. Sugar is definitely a drug. In fact, it’s probably the substance in our diet most obviously associated with drugs.[14] Scientific research has shown that sugar is addictive, it has no nutritional value, and it has hugely negative impacts on our health, especially when it’s consumed in excess.[15] To astute readers – or anyone who has been paying attention – this is not shocking news.

Sugar is fascinating from a biochemistry perspective because there is essentially no reason to consume it – especially in excess – or even in the amounts that we do in a typical western diet. Sugar consumption has gone up ten-fold, in the US and worldwide, since the invention of soda.[16] It is, quite literally, used solely by processed food manufacturers and surreptitiously added to everything (even bread) to make foods more addictive, to get us to crave their products, and buy more of them.[17]

While this sounds like a pretty stark reality, it is nonetheless reality. There is no need for sugar in almost any food. Sugar is only found in good ratios, in food that is organic and made by the earth naturally.[18] If you could only pick one thing to do to improve your healthy biochemistry, lowering or removing sugar from your diet should be it.

In John Yudkin’s classic book Pure, White, and Deadly, he goes over just how bad sugar’s effects are. And the miraculous thing is that he was saying this long before most of us had any concerns at all about too much sugar.[19] If there is one product or industry to blame for decreasing the quality of our diet and decreasing our nation’s health, it would be soda. There is literally no reason for soda to exist. And as Steve Jobs famously said; it’s just sugar water.

When we look at the biochemical makeup up of soda, that is quite literally almost all we find – water, and sugar. Disturbingly, soda is even worse than just this simple formula, as most of the sugar is in the form of fructose, which has been shown, in numerous studies, to have hugely negative impacts on both our liver and overall health.[20] From a biochemical standpoint, fructose is processed differently than glucose and has many disturbing parallels to alcohol in terms of how our bodies and brains are affected by it.[21]

In fact, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), caused by excess fructose is in many ways the exact same disease as alcoholism.[22] As its name implies, fatty liver disease is usually caused by excess alcohol. However, pediatric endocrinologists are seeing an epidemic in obese children – and they only get this way by excess sugar (specifically fructose) consumption.[23]

So, what does the biochemistry of healthy eating look like? In short, it’s filled with protein, healthy (anti-inflammatory) fats, and complex carbohydrates.[24] These food choices all provide favorable reactions, biochemically, with no real downsides. When we eat a diet like the Paleo Diet® – our bodies and brains remain happy, and function optimally.[25]

Many do not understand that the toll a poor diet takes on us is great. We can lose our ability to process thoughts as quickly, lose our hair, gain weight, develop disease, and even die.[26] And yet many of us still choose to not eat properly. This is truly self-sabotage. By following the Paleo Diet template – all the hard work is done for you. You do not have to think about food choices or worry about the biochemistry of what you are eating. A Paleo Diet is perfectly proportioned to optimize our health, and to keep us lean, healthy, and happy.



[1] Granado-lorencio F, Hernández-alvarez E. Functional Foods and Health Effects: A Nutritional Biochemistry Perspective. Curr Med Chem. 2016;23(26):2929-2957.

[2] Winblad B, Hardy J, Bäckman L, Nilsson LG. Memory function and brain biochemistry in normal aging and in senile dementia. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1985;444:255-68.

[3] Holden-dye LM, O’connor VM, Stephenson FA. Molecules of the mind: integrating synaptic biochemistry to understand brain function. Biochem Soc Trans. 2006;34(Pt 1):43-4.

[4] Mathes WF, Brownley KA, Mo X, Bulik CM. The biology of binge eating. Appetite. 2009;52(3):545-553.

[5] Imai S, Fukui M, Kajiyama S. Effect of eating vegetables before carbohydrates on glucose excursions in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2014;54(1):7-11.

[6] Sikaris KA. The clinical biochemistry of obesity. Clin Biochem Rev. 2004;25(3):165-81.

[7] Ammon HP. Biochemical mechanism of caffeine tolerance. Arch Pharm (Weinheim). 1991;324(5):261-7.

[8] Nehlig A, Daval JL, Debry G. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992;17(2):139-70.

[9] Shryock JC, Belardinelli L. Adenosine and adenosine receptors in the cardiovascular system: biochemistry, physiology, and pharmacology. Am J Cardiol. 1997;79(12A):2-10.

[10] Ribeiro JA, Sebastião AM. Caffeine and adenosine. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S3-15.

[11] Urry E, Landolt HP. Adenosine, caffeine, and performance: from cognitive neuroscience of sleep to sleep pharmacogenetics. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;25:331-66.

[12] Meredith SE, Juliano LM, Hughes JR, Griffiths RR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-130.

[13] Pardo lozano R, Alvarez garcía Y, Barral tafalla D, Farré albaladejo M. [Caffeine: a nutrient, a drug or a drug of abuse]. Adicciones. 2007;19(3):225-38.

[14] Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.

[15] Freeman CR, Zehra A, Ramirez V, Wiers CE, Volkow ND, Wang GJ. Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2018;23:2255-2266.

[16] Anjum I, Jaffery SS, Fayyaz M, Wajid A, Ans AH. Sugar Beverages and Dietary Sodas Impact on Brain Health: A Mini Literature Review. Cureus. 2018;10(6):e2756.

[17] Rippe JM, Angelopoulos TJ. Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients. 2016;8(11)

[18] Martínez steele E, Baraldi LG, Louzada ML, Moubarac JC, Mozaffarian D, Monteiro CA. Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2016;6(3):e009892.

[19] Yudkin J. Dietetic aspects of atherosclerosis. Angiology. 1966;17(2):127-33.

[20] Rizkalla SW. Health implications of fructose consumption: A review of recent data. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7:82.

[21] Lustig RH. Fructose: it’s “alcohol without the buzz”. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(2):226-35.

[22] Byrne CD, Targher G. NAFLD: a multisystem disease. J Hepatol. 2015;62(1 Suppl):S47-64.

[23] Basaranoglu M, Basaranoglu G, Bugianesi E. Carbohydrate intake and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: fructose as a weapon of mass destruction. Hepatobiliary Surg Nutr. 2015;4(2):109-16.

[24] Sauberlich HE. Implications of nutritional status on human biochemistry, physiology, and health. Clin Biochem. 1984;17(2):132-42.

[25] Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, et al. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009;8:35.

[26] Leslie W, Hankey C. Aging, Nutritional Status and Health. Healthcare (Basel). 2015;3(3):648-58.

Caffeine and the Brain: Part 2

Did you miss Caffeine and the Brain: Part 1? Read it HERE.

In Caffeine and the Brain: Part 1, we looked at how caffeine has become a universal habit and why it can be detrimental to achieving maximal health. We discussed the egregious consumption of a pesticide and stimulant, but how exactly does caffeine work, scientifically, once it gets inside our brain? It acts as a central nervous system stimulant,1 by binding to adenosine receptor sites, blocking adenosine from doing its job.2

Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which normally helps the body relax.3 This explains why caffeine causes sleep issues4 and alertness when sleep-deprived.5 Caffeine molecules are stopping adenosine from doing its job.6

However, your body is smart, and is a big believer in a thing called “homeostasis,” meaning it likes to keep things the same.7 So when you start drinking large amounts of caffeine8 your body makes more of these adenosine receptor sites, and you need more caffeine to block them, since you feel caffeine’s effects via blocking a large majority of these receptors.9, 10

Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, narrowing blood vessels, and decreases blood flow, and sometimes used in pain relief medications.11 By blocking adenosine from doing its job, caffeine also increases respiratory rate.12 However, caffeine ingestion promotes neurotransmitter release (acetylcholine, monoamines, etc.) which is how it does its job, as a stimulant.13 Meanwhile, dopamine and glutamate are released in the nucleus accumbens (your brain’s pleasure center).14

When following a Paleo Diet and lifestyle, look to the scientific basis behind leaving caffeine out. It’s better to rely on your body’s own natural energy stores. Natural sleep and wake cycles are ideal, and help your body function optimally.15 This isn’t possible when you are drinking lots of caffeine.16

And, as most of you already likely know, caffeine also causes cortisol to be released.17 Your body thinks some kind of emergency is happening, and it wants to prepare you. Humans need extremely huge doses of caffeine in order for it to become toxic.18 However, other animals are not nearly as tolerant (hence its original use as a pesticide).19 Below is the effect seen on a spider, that has ingested caffeine.20

Interestingly, caffeine is legal and unregulated, which is not at all the case for basically every other psychoactive drug in the world.21 In fact, Dr. William Dement, professor from Stanford University, posits if caffeine were introduced today, it would not be made legal.22 The addictive nature and withdrawal effects are well-documented23 among the sleep, stimulant, and biochemical effects.24

Noever, R., J. Cronise, and R. A. Relwani. 1995. Using spider-web patterns to determine toxicity. NASA Tech Briefs 19(4):82. Published in New Scientist magazine, 29 April 1995.

Noever, R., J. Cronise, and R. A. Relwani. 1995. Using spider-web patterns to determine toxicity. NASA Tech Briefs 19(4):82. Published in New Scientist magazine, 29 April 1995.


Thorn Caroline F, Aklillu Eleni, McDonagh Ellen M, Klein Teri E, Altman Russ B. “PharmGKB summary: caffeine pathway” Pharmacogenetics and genomics (2012).


Genetically, caffeine has a stronger effect on some individuals, compared to others.25 Humans with at least one C variant of CYP1A2, a gene, react less favorably to caffeine, and metabolize it slower.26 This could possibly explain the difference between you, and your friend who goes off the rails on just one cup of espresso.

Besides this scientific evidence, caffeine depletes magnesium stores, causing many effects downstream.27 These effects can be exhibited as: poor sleep, muscle cramps and chronic pain.28 About 50% of people in the United States are deficient in magnesium, whether due to too much caffeine, or not enough magnesium consumption to begin with, though it’s likely both.29

Caffeine, if consumed, is best kept at the ‘therapeutic’ dose, of 100-200mg per day.30 Incorporating caffeine into your Paleo Diet isn’t advisable, however, if you’re looking to maximize its effects. If looking to minimize your pesticide load, organic coffee is more ideal, and green tea offers L-theanine, which has a calming effect on the brain, along with lower amounts of caffeine, compared with coffee.31, 32

Lastly, let us not forget that the most beneficial beverage of all…water! A Paleo Diet should be hydrating, and keep your cells happy! Raise your glass (or bottle) to good health!


1. Nehlig A, Daval JL, Debry G. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992;17(2):139-70.

2. Fisone G, Borgkvist A, Usiello A. Caffeine as a psychomotor stimulant: mechanism of action. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2004;61(7-8):857-72.

3. Ribeiro JA. Purinergic inhibition of neurotransmitter release in the central nervous system. Pharmacol Toxicol. 1995;77(5):299-305.

4. Snel J, Lorist MM. Effects of caffeine on sleep and cognition. Prog Brain Res. 2011;190:105-17.

5. Daniello A, Fievisohn E, Gregory TS. Modeling the effects of caffeine on the sleep/ wake cycle. Biomed Sci Instrum. 2012;48:73-80.

6. Ribeiro JA, Sebastião AM. Caffeine and adenosine. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S3-15.

7. Houseknecht KL, Portocarrero CP. Leptin and its receptors: regulators of whole-body energy homeostasis. Domest Anim Endocrinol. 1998;15(6):457-75.

8. Pallarés JG, Fernández-elías VE, Ortega JF, Muñoz G, Muñoz-guerra J, Mora-rodríguez R. Neuromuscular responses to incremental caffeine doses: performance and side effects. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013;45(11):2184-92.

9. Kaplan GB, Greenblatt DJ, Ehrenberg BL, et al. Dose-dependent pharmacokinetics and psychomotor effects of caffeine in humans. J Clin Pharmacol. 1997;37(8):693-703.

10. Holtzman SG, Mante S, Minneman KP. Role of adenosine receptors in caffeine tolerance. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1991;256(1):62-8.

11. Dager SR, Layton ME, Strauss W, et al. Human brain metabolic response to caffeine and the effects of tolerance. Am J Psychiatry. 1999;156(2):229-37.

12. Barry RJ, Clarke AR, Johnstone SJ, Rushby JA. Timing of caffeine’s impact on autonomic and central nervous system measures: clarification of arousal effects. Biol Psychol. 2008;77(3):304-16.

13. Rossi S, De chiara V, Musella A, et al. Effects of caffeine on striatal neurotransmission: focus on cannabinoid CB1 receptors. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010;54(4):525-31.

14. Solinas M, Ferré S, You ZB, Karcz-kubicha M, Popoli P, Goldberg SR. Caffeine induces dopamine and glutamate release in the shell of the nucleus accumbens. J Neurosci. 2002;22(15):6321-4.

15. Krystal AD. How the circadian rhythm affects sleep, wakefulness, and overall health: background for understanding shift work disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2012;73(2):e05.

16. Sherman H, Gutman R, Chapnik N, Meylan J, Le coutre J, Froy O. Caffeine alters circadian rhythms and expression of disease and metabolic markers. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2011;43(5):829-38.

17. Lovallo WR, Whitsett TL, Al’absi M, Sung BH, Vincent AS, Wilson MF. Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels. Psychosom Med. 2005;67(5):734-9.

18. Kerrigan S, Lindsey T. Fatal caffeine overdose: two case reports. Forensic Sci Int. 2005;153(1):67-9.

19. Bonati M, Jiritano L, Bortolotti A, et al. Caffeine distribution in acute toxic response among inbred mice. Toxicol Lett. 1985;29(1):25-31.

20. Witt PN. Drugs alter web-building of spiders: a review and evaluation. Behav Sci. 1971;16(1):98-113.

21. Reissig CJ, Strain EC, Griffiths RR. Caffeinated energy drinks–a growing problem. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009;99(1-3):1-10.

22. Dement, W. and Vaughan, C. (1999). The promise of sleep. 1st ed. New York: Delacorte Press.

23. Griffiths RR, Chausmer AL. Caffeine as a model drug of dependence: recent developments in understanding caffeine withdrawal, the caffeine dependence syndrome, and caffeine negative reinforcement. Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2000;20(5):223-31.

24. Smith JE, Lawrence AD, Diukova A, Wise RG, Rogers PJ. Storm in a coffee cup: caffeine modifies brain activation to social signals of threat. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012;7(7):831-40.

25. Cornelis MC, Byrne EM, Esko T, et al. Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies six novel loci associated with habitual coffee consumption. Mol Psychiatry. 2014;

26. Available at: //www.pharmgkb.org/pathway/PA165884757. Accessed October 15, 2014.

27. Kynast-gales SA, Massey LK. Effect of caffeine on circadian excretion of urinary calcium and magnesium. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994;13(5):467-72.

28. Johnson S. The multifaceted and widespread pathology of magnesium deficiency. Med Hypotheses. 2001;56(2):163-70.

29. Al-ghamdi SM, Cameron EC, Sutton RA. Magnesium deficiency: pathophysiologic and clinical overview. Am J Kidney Dis. 1994;24(5):737-52.

30. Jenkins NT, Trilk JL, Singhal A, O’connor PJ, Cureton KJ. Ergogenic effects of low doses of caffeine on cycling performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008;18(3):328-42.

31. Cabrera C, Artacho R, Giménez R. Beneficial effects of green tea–a review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006;25(2):79-99.

32. Chacko SM, Thambi PT, Kuttan R, Nishigaki I. Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review. Chin Med. 2010;5:13.

Caffeine and the Brain: Part 1

Before switching to a Paleo Diet, many of us drank coffee on a regular basis.1 If not coffee, maybe an energy drink, espresso, or a diet or regular soda.2, 3 All of these beverages have one thing in common: caffeine. Caffeine is the world’s most popular psychoactive drug.4 Though a small amount (about 10%) of humans do not consume any of the stimulant, worldwide consumption is enough to make the average caffeine intake equivalent to about one drink, per person, per day.5, 6 With over 7 billion people in the world – that’s a LOT of caffeine.7

Caffeine is derived from plants, and acts as a pesticide.8, 9, 10 If that’s not disturbing enough, it’s also one of the most heavily sprayed crops, pesticide-wise, in the world.11, 12, 13, 14, 15, However, while pesticides can be destroyed in the roasting process, I would argue that anything sprayed heavily with pesticides, is not something worth consuming. Still feel comfortable nursing that cup next to you? Below, is a pest which burrows into and lays its eggs in coffee berries. It has genetically adapted from bacteria (via lateral gene transfer) which enables it to continue to invade coffee crops.16

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Mar 13, 2012; 109(11): 4197–4202. Published online Feb 27, 2012.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Mar 13, 2012; 109(11): 4197–4202.
Published online Feb 27, 2012.

Since caffeine is so widely consumed, it is in the public’s interest to know exactly it is doing to your brain.17 Caffeine, chemically, is a member of the xanthine and alkaloid family.18 Other members of these families include cocaine, nicotine, morphine, psilocin, and codeine, to name but a few.19 Starting to second-guess that cup of coffee yet?

Caffeine, unfortunately, is one of the elements of “fast food America,” along with processed foods, added sugar, and television.20 A Paleo Diet is superior to this widespread way of living, in every single category.21 By taking time to savor your food, eating foods which make you healthier, and avoiding stimulants, you’ll maximize your own potential to be healthy.


Caffeine synthase and related methyltransferases in plants. Frontiers In Bioscience, Landmark, 9, 1833-1842, May 1, 2004

Here, we see the biosynthesis of caffeine. What we ultimately must understand from this process, is that theobromine is an important precursor to caffeine.22 Besides caffeine, theobromine itself has been studied to be the other psychopharmacologically active element in another, as-yet unnamed, caffeine-containing substance – chocolate.23 Beyond the psychopharmacological effects of theobromine, it also has been shown to be the main constituent that we come to crave when we eat chocolate.24 The other? Caffeine itself.

Caffeine Figure 3

Nutrients. Jan 2014; 6(1): 319–341.
Published online Jan 10, 2014.

Since we are all composed of different genetic and molecular material, our brains respond to caffeine differently.25, 26 In these diagrams, we see how different regions of the brain are affected and impacted by merely the sight of chocolate, which contains caffeine and theobromine.27 Some will immediately have activity in brain regions such as the pregenual cingulate cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex.28 Others, will not.

Since chocolate is a multivariate compound, we must look at pure caffeine, to see what its effects are on your brain. Perhaps most alarmingly, caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain, by about 25%.29 This is not good. In the below two images, we can see the effects of reduced blood flow, graphically, in those who drink caffeine, and also the increase in blood flow, in those who are going through caffeine withdrawal.

Caffeine Figure 4

Hum Brain Mapp. Author manuscript; available in PMC Oct 1, 2010. Published in final edited form as:
Hum Brain Mapp. Oct 2009; 30(10): 3102–3114.

 Hum Brain Mapp. Author manuscript; available in PMC Oct 1, 2010. Published in final edited form as: Hum Brain Mapp. Oct 2009; 30(10): 3102–3114.

Hum Brain Mapp. Author manuscript; available in PMC Oct 1, 2010. Published in final edited form as:
Hum Brain Mapp. Oct 2009; 30(10): 3102–3114.

Besides these disturbing effects (cerebral blood flow is most definitely something you want more of, not less of), caffeine disrupts the ends of our DNA, causing aging.30 This process happens via telomeres, which normally protect the chromosome ends from degradation. Another suspect on this list? Alcohol, which shouldn’t be a surprise.31

A Paleo Diet removes these common vices, and instead offers healthy fats, nutrient-rich foods, and choices that help make you healthier. By taking time to savor your food, eating foods which make you healthier, and avoiding stimulants, you can reap the plethora of benefits offered by a Paleo lifestyle!


1. Gilbert RM. Caffeine consumption. Prog Clin Biol Res. 1984;158:185-213.

2. Heckman MA, Weil J, Gonzalez de mejia E. Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in foods: a comprehensive review on consumption, functionality, safety, and regulatory matters. J Food Sci. 2010;75(3):R77-87.

3. Persad LA. Energy drinks and the neurophysiological impact of caffeine. Front Neurosci. 2011;5:116.

4. Daly JW, Holmén J, Fredholm BB. [Is caffeine addictive? The most widely used psychoactive substance in the world affects same parts of the brain as cocaine]. Lakartidningen. 1998;95(51-52):5878-83.

5. Lovett R. Coffee: The demon drink? New Scientist. 2005;24:2518–2522.

6. Available at: //www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/17/amp-up-america/. Accessed October 15, 2014.

7. Available at: //www.worldometers.info/world-population/. Accessed October 15, 2014.

8. Uefuji H, Tatsumi Y, Morimoto M, Kaothien-nakayama P, Ogita S, Sano H. Caffeine production in tobacco plants by simultaneous expression of three coffee N-methyltrasferases and its potential as a pest repellant. Plant Mol Biol. 2005;59(2):221-7.

9. Nathanson JA. Caffeine and related methylxanthines: possible naturally occurring pesticides. Science. 1984;226(4671):184-7.

10. Hollingsworth RG, Armstrong JW, Campbell E. Caffeine as a repellent for slugs and snails. Nature. 2002;417(6892):915-6.

11. Ngowi AV, Maeda DN, Partanen TJ, Sanga MP, Mbise G. Acute health effects of organophosphorus pesticides on Tanzanian small-scale coffee growers. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2001;11(4):335-9.

12. Available at: //www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2010/0103/Organic-coffee-Why-Latin-America-s-farmers-are-abandoning-it. Accessed October 15, 2014.

13. Acuña R, Padilla BE, Flórez-ramos CP, et al. Adaptive horizontal transfer of a bacterial gene to an invasive insect pest of coffee. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012;109(11):4197-202.

14. Sakamoto K, Nishizawa H, Manabe N. Behavior of pesticides in coffee beans during the roasting process. Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2012;53(5):233-6.

15. Cetinkaya M, Von düszeln J, Thiemann W, Silwar R. [Organochlorine pesticide residues in raw and roasted coffee and their degradation during the roasting process]. Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1984;179(1):5-8.

16. Ioannidis P, Lu Y, Kumar N, et al. Rapid transcriptome sequencing of an invasive pest, the brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys. BMC Genomics. 2014;15:738.

17. Fredholm BB, Bättig K, Holmén J, Nehlig A, Zvartau EE. Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacol Rev. 1999;51(1):83-133.

18. Schimpl FC, Kiyota E, Mayer JL, Gonçalves JF, Da silva JF, Mazzafera P. Molecular and biochemical characterization of caffeine synthase and purine alkaloid concentration in guarana fruit. Phytochemistry. 2014;105:25-36.

19. Available at: //www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/15672/alkaloid. Accessed October 15, 2014.

20. Pereira MA, Kartashov AI, Ebbeling CB, et al. Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis. Lancet. 2005;365(9453):36-42.

21. Mellberg C, Sandberg S, Ryberg M, et al. Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(3):350-7.

22. Judelson DA, Preston AG, Miller DL, Muñoz CX, Kellogg MD, Lieberman HR. Effects of theobromine and caffeine on mood and vigilance. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2013;33(4):499-506.

23. Smit HJ, Gaffan EA, Rogers PJ. Methylxanthines are the psycho-pharmacologically active constituents of chocolate. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004;176(3-4):412-9.

24. Smit HJ, Blackburn RJ. Reinforcing effects of caffeine and theobromine as found in chocolate. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2005;181(1):101-6.

25. Dager SR, Layton ME, Strauss W, et al. Human brain metabolic response to caffeine and the effects of tolerance. Am J Psychiatry. 1999;156(2):229-37.

26. Cornelis MC, Byrne EM, Esko T, et al. Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies six novel loci associated with habitual coffee consumption. Mol Psychiatry. 2014;

27. Asmaro D, Liotti M. High-caloric and chocolate stimuli processing in healthy humans: an integration of functional imaging and electrophysiological findings. Nutrients. 2014;6(1):319-41.

28. Rolls ET, Mccabe C. Enhanced affective brain representations of chocolate in cravers vs. non-cravers. Eur J Neurosci. 2007;26(4):1067-76.

29. Addicott MA, Yang LL, Peiffer AM, et al. The effect of daily caffeine use on cerebral blood flow: How much caffeine can we tolerate?. Hum Brain Mapp. 2009;30(10):3102-14.

30. Romano GH, Harari Y, Yehuda T, et al. Environmental stresses disrupt telomere length homeostasis. PLoS Genet. 2013;9(9):e1003721.

31. Strandberg TE, Strandberg AY, Saijonmaa O, Tilvis RS, Pitkälä KH, Fyhrquist F. Association between alcohol consumption in healthy midlife and telomere length in older men. The Helsinki Businessmen Study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2012;27(10):815-22.

Caffiene | The Paleo Diet

Many people who switch to The Paleo Diet often find themselves questioning their ritual morning cup of coffee. With roughly 90% of the North American population consuming coffee on a daily basis you’re left wondering if coffee is an acceptable drink to include in your Paleo menu.

What is Coffee?

Coffee is created by brewing the roasted seed or “bean” of one of the numerous species of Coffee trees (coffea). The trees tend to thrive in high elevation, tropical climates with fertile soil. Because the tree can often grow up to 30 feet in height, it is typically pruned at much shorter heights to ensure an easy harvest. The majority of the world’s coffee producers originate from countries located near the equator.

What Effect Does Coffee Have on the Human Body?

Caffeine is the main stimulant found in coffee. The consumption stimulates the central nervous system in humans and tends to ward off drowsiness. It also tends to act as a diuretic. Many heavy coffee drinkers report that their morning cup of Joe no longer gives them the same burst of energy that they experienced when they first developed their habit. In fact, many habitual coffee drinkers report suffering from sleep disturbances, headaches, and general “sluggish” behavior. This is often due to the fact that long term consumption has an exhaustion effect on the adrenal glands. It also hinders insulin sensitivity, which can lead to fatigue and headaches.

Should Coffee be a Part of a The Paleo Diet?

Coffee should be excluded by anyone seeking to achieve the most out of their Paleo lifestyle. The Paleo Diet focuses on eating nutrient dense, naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory foods that promote overall wellness and sustained levels of energy. Many people who switch to The Paleo Diet discover that their morning cup of black gold becomes a habit of the past. If you find yourself having a hard time quitting the coffee ritual, it might be helpful to incorporate moderate amounts of green tea which is slightly higher in antioxidants, and contains lower levels of caffeine.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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