You may have seen the article in “Spirituality and Health” entitled “Natural Medicine: the health lowdown on coffee is far from black and white.” Some of my students recognize my need for these drugs and how I view them as some of God’s perfect addictions. Our various classes are often measured as successful or not for the amount consumed, as in “great class, good coffee, lots of chocolate.” I have thought of renaming “Character and Call” to “Coffee and Chocolate.” I am sure our faculty would be fine with that.
One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the way in which people metabolized caffeine and then examined heart attack rates. When the researchers divided the group according to whether they possessed an enzyme that quickly metabolizes caffeine, or a different enzyme that metabolizes it more slowly, suddenly the picture on the impact of caffeine intake and heart attack became very clear. People who break down caffeine rapidly decrease their risk of a heart attack by drinking coffee, while slow caffeine metabolizers dramatically increase their risk. Drinking four cups a day of coffee was associated with a 17 percent decrease risk in fast metabolizers and a 260 percent increased risk in slow metabolizers.
I wonder now if I grade according to how fast or slow students metabolize, since the fast metabolizers seem to write more brilliant papers and posts as well as love chocolate, but not white chocolate, which has no right to be called chocolate.
So, should you be drinking more coffee in my classes? Depends if you are a fast or slow metabolizer. How do you know if you are a fast or slow?
The article says that if caffeine makes you feel a bit nervous, irritable, hyper, anxious, or depressed, or if it causes insomnia, you are likely a slow metabolizer. If you are a fast metabolizer, you can tolerate caffeine, maybe even love it. It is said that one cup produces better protection against a heart attack than drinking two or more cups, and that might mean that you should get your coffee, if you are only drinking one cup, from a place like Revolver or Matchstick or CC Violin (my new favourite in West Vancouver because it combines the best French chocolate pastries with dark coffee).
The article concludes that coffee can be source of beneficial antioxidants and healthful in low quantities if it works for your body but that health benefits pale in comparison with the benefits provided by many other foods, most notably chocolate, berries, and other richly colored fruit and vegetables. Maybe coffee and chocolate together are a great idea for my classes after all.