How Does Caffeine Affect You?

How Does Caffeine Affect You?

It is difficult to predict how and for how long caffeine affects our bodies. Research suggests that caffeine affects everyone differently and our relationship with it could change as we age. A study examining the relationship between chronotype and the effects of caffeine on sleep in Stanford students found early birds had a strong correlation between daytime caffeine use and waking during sleep. Night owls’ sleep seemed to not be affected by their daytime caffeine intake. People in between seemed to experience minor effects. However, this study was exclusive to Stanford students, who are generally a more sleep-deprived population. It is unclear the degree to which this affected the results but is likely a significant confounding variable.

One of our sleep experts, Dr. Jaime Zeitzer, PhD, says , “There is massive variability in how people metabolize caffeine and in many, even a single cup of coffee with breakfast can interfere with sleep. Being aware of how your caffeine consumption personally impacts your sleep is incredibly important.”

By: Carly Mae Smith, BS

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Sources:

  1. Modeling caffeine concentrations with the Stanford Caffeine Questionnaire: preliminary evidence for an interaction of chronotype with the effects of caffeine on sleep
Coffee & Longer Lives

Coffee & Longer Lives

A team here at Stanford studying inflammation in older adults found an interesting correlation between those that regularly drank caffeinated coffee and those with lower levels of chronic inflammation. The study suggests that regular, moderate coffee intake may protect us from age-related inflammation and diseases. The clinical trial looking at markers of inflammation and age-related diseases found that 89 older subjects who regularly consumed caffeine from coffee experienced suppressed disease-related inflammation.

Before grabbing your next cup of joe, there are a few things are team would like you to keep in mind:

1) Coffee can mask grogginess, but you still need regular, sustained sleep! Coffee at any time of the day could disrupt sleep.

2) Too much sugar in your coffee may negate Some health benefits!

3) Be careful not to drink too much! Caffeine levels vary by coffee type.

4) If you don’t like coffee, try tea! We see many nutritional benefits in black and green tea too!

There are lots of factors to consider when discussing the impact of coffee and caffeine on our lifestyles, and we hope to cover a lot of them in the near future! To learn more about how caffeine may affect people differently, check out our post on caffeine and chronotypes.

By: Carly Mae Smith, BS


Sources:

  1. Expression of specific inflammasome gene modules stratifies older individuals into two extreme clinical and immunological states
Navigating the Difficult World of Supplements

Navigating the Difficult World of Supplements

By Matthew Kaufman, MD

When you think about nutritional supplements for athletic performance, you may imagine an advertised “get fit quick!” and a promise to change your whole life. I remember when friends, teammates or a coach would tell me about a supplement, I would often tune it out for a couple of different reasons. First, we must be aware that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Second, the supplement industry does not follow the same FDA standards that other drugs or medications have. This means that some of the supplements people buy may not contain adequate levels of different ingredients or may even contain things that might be harmful to your health like mercury or arsenic.

 

So instead, I decided to investigate these supplements myself and found some interesting research. From my findings, I gathered three big takeaways: (1) Some supplements are safe and rooted in research, while others have mixed evidence for their efficacy, (2) what are considered the most effective supplements surprised me- and may surprise you, and (3) in shopping for supplements, it is difficult to determine how to find the best value.

 

Most common supplements are safe when used and sourced appropriately. For instance, Creatine, a protein our body naturally uses for quick sources of energy and can be used to improve power in high intensity exercise performance, does not lead to kidney dysfunction when taken as recommended (ie. 5g four times daily, or 0.3g/kg of body weight for 5-7 days as a loading dose and then 3-10g/day for maintenance dose) and does not need to be cycled on and off as previously thought. In fact, vegans and vegetarians may benefit even more from daily creatine supplementation because they do not get as much from their diet. With more and more athletes exploring vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based diets to promote longevity, Creatine supplementation may become more important down the line. With common supplements such as Creatine, Caffeine, B-Alanine, BCAA’s, Citrulline, Arginine and Beet Root Juice, minimal safety concerns have been reported from the thousands of research studies conducted. This means the risk of taking these supplements is overall low, so if you feel inclined to try one for yourself, you can feel safe in doing so after discussing with your healthcare provider. Overall, it is important to understand that the common supplements that people take are well regarded for their safety, and after proper consultation with a medical practitioner, will likely not lead to long term consequences.

 

There was also a surprising amount of evidence supporting the efficacy of different supplements for sports performance. Caffeine, for example, has robust evidence for improving performance for athletes. Caffeine has been shown to increase power and velocity in strength training and performance in boxers, shot put, rowers and cyclists. On the other hand, while Branched Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs, are one of the most popular supplements, the actual evidence did not robustly support their use in sports performance. BCAAs are a specific group of amino acids consisting of isoleucine, leucine and valine that are thought to be linked to recovery and prevention of muscle breakdown. International societies have even weighed in with the Australian Institute of Sport giving BCAAs a grade “C”, meaning that the current evidence is not supportive of benefit amongst athletes OR no research has been performed to guide an informed opinion. Dietary Nitrates, like Beet Root Juice, and Caffeine have an “A”, meaning that there is strong evidence for certain situations in sport with evidence-based protocols. For instance, there is strong evidence, that Beet Root Juice supplementation can lead to prolonged high-end effort as well as improved average and max power especially in the endurance athlete. It is important to realize that every supplement may not help sports performance in all domains. Understanding how each supplement can impact your strength, endurance, recovery, and other aspects of exercise and sport is crucial to knowing the appropriate situations where each supplement is warranted.

 

Finally, my research showed how difficult it can be to purchase the right supplement. When visiting a popular internet marketplace, I had no idea where to start. There were numerous blends of different supplements, with different concentrations and all at different price points. With this immense variation, it is incredibly difficult for any buyer to determine the right product for them.

 

Here are 5 easy steps I recommend for finding quality supplements that will help you meet your athletic goals:

  • Meet with your healthcare provider to decide if and what supplement is appropriate for you and your goals. Make sure to discuss things like the proper dosage and time course!
  • Check for safety information for your supplement on MedWatch (the FDA reporting site for adverse events and reactions).
  • Check for quality and accuracy of reported ingredients in your supplement at ConsumerLab, US Pharmopecia, and NSF International.
  • Check the price of your supplement across multiple stores and vitamin shops to ensure you find the most cost-effective option.
  • After deciding the proper supplement with your physician, report your experience with them!

 

 

From this investigation of sports supplements, it’s clear how important it is that people understand exactly what they are taking, but this is no easy task. Because supplements are not regulated in the same ways as medications, we as consumers must complete the necessary research ourselves. We need to ask ourselves, “What really is in these supplements?” and “What is the impact of the supplement’s ingredients?” The best thing to do would be to talk about your goals with a physician or medical professional who understand these supplements and can recommend a trusted brand or source. Don’t miss the full systematic review, Supplements for Athletic Performance, that will be published in the coming months.

What a 10-Second Balance Test Can (and Can't) Tell Us About Longevity

What a 10-Second Balance Test Can (and Can’t) Tell Us About Longevity

A recent study found that standing on one leg for 10 seconds was independently associated with survival and that those unable to perform this test had double the usual risk of premature death. This relationship is an association and not causal – meaning, the test cannot predict when someone will die. It does, however, highlight the importance of monitoring and maintaining balance as we age. Good balance later in life can lower fall risk and help maintain independence, mobility, functional abilities, and overall quality of life.

According to Corey Rovzar, an expert in balance a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Prevention Research Center in the School of Medicine, balance is often overlooked in most people’s exercise regimes and is not regularly included in routine health checks for middle-aged and older adults. This study highlights the importance of monitoring and maintaining balance as you age since balance tends to decline most rapidly beginning in your 60s – and this decline can lead to faulty biomechanics and/or falls. The good news is that you can improve your balance through training! This could be as simple as standing on one leg while you brush your teeth, performing single-leg exercises, or engaging in activities such as tai chi and yoga. Strength training is also important, especially for the lower body, because stronger muscles allow you to have greater stability as you move and to move at an ideal speed. The key to any exercise program is consistency – find something that you enjoy and stick with it!

By: Corey Rovzar, PhD & Maya Shetty, BS

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Sources:

  1. Successful 10-second one-legged stance performance predicts survival in middle-aged and older individuals
Beneficial Effects of Tea on Longevity

Beneficial Effects of Tea on Longevity

The study analyzed data from 6387 participants and identified three distinct tea consumption trajectories. After a median follow-up of 17.9 years, it was found that high tea consumption was associated with a lower risk of mortality, but this effect was observed only in non-alcohol drinkers. Among current alcohol drinkers, increasing tea consumption was linearly associated with increased mortality. Additionally, the study revealed that alcohol intake masked the protective effect of tea consumption against blood pressure progression.

In conclusion, individuals with a long-term high tea consumption trajectory had a lower risk of all-cause mortality and a slower rate of blood pressure increase. However, the beneficial effects of tea consumption were diminished or even harmful in the presence of alcohol intake.

By: Michael Fredericson, MD

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Sources:

  1. Alcohol intake masked the protective effects of tea consumption against all-cause mortality and blood pressure progression: Findings from CHNS cohort, 1993–2011