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Caffeine Consumption: Unraveling the Health Impacts of Synthetic and Natural Sources

Tuesday, January 2nd 2024 10:00am 2 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

The Ubiquity of Caffeine in American Life

Caffeine, found in products ranging from Starbucks beverages to Red Bull and Coca-Cola, is an essential source of energy for about 75% of Americans who consume it daily. This stimulant acts as a catalyst, energizing the mind and body to endure the rigors of a long day.

Different Effects of Synthetic and Natural Caffeine

Emerging studies suggest that the source of caffeine can have varying impacts on health. While naturally occurring caffeine might decelerate aging-related decline, synthetic caffeine, on the other hand, could potentially hasten aging.

The Aging Impact of Synthetic Caffeine

The specific form of caffeine in your daily coffee could influence its age-defying properties. About 60% of caffeine consumed in the U.S. is artificially created in laboratories, unlike natural sources such as coffee beans or tea leaves. Drinks from major brands like Pepsi, Coke, and Red Bull often use this synthetic caffeine. A study in Nutrition & Metabolism (2017) linked high caffeine intake with shorter telomeres, markers of aging, whereas coffee was associated with longer telomeres. This indicates that coffee’s beneficial effects might extend beyond just caffeine.

Coffee and Tea Versus Synthetic Caffeine

Further research underscores the difference between coffee consumption and synthetic caffeine intake. For instance, greater coffee intake among female nurses in the UK correlated with longer telomeres. Conversely, a 2023 study in Nutrients suggested that instant coffee, possibly due to higher lead content, might shorten telomeres, unlike standard filtered coffee. Green tea also showed protective effects against telomere shortening, while synthetic caffeine showed signs of DNA damage.

The Anti-Aging Components in Coffee and Tea

The presence of multiple antioxidants in coffee and tea is believed to contribute to their anti-aging properties. Studies have shown these beverages protect DNA integrity and lessen oxidative damage. For example, a study reported a 23% reduction in DNA damage from dark roast coffee over four weeks. The caffeine in these beverages is accompanied by over a thousand compounds, including powerful antioxidants like polyphenols.

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