Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Wednesday, 18 February 2015

If You're On The Pill, Coffee Affects You Way More; And Other Crazy Caffeine Facts

The Debrief: If you thought you knew coffee, prepare to get your little caffeinated mind blown.

Coffee. 400 billion cups of the brown, milky (sometimes) nectar are necked every year around the world, and in the UK alone we spend a caffeine-high-inducing £730 million a year on it. As a nation, not each. Otherwise you'd really notice that dint in your bank balance. 

But while you're guzzling it down like tomorrow doesn't exist, what do you really know about C8H10N4O2? That's the formula for caffeine, by the way. And that's not the only truth-bomb we'll be raining down on your caffeinated brains. Because everybody knows that drinking 17 coffees before trying to have a nap isn't a great idea (and neither is drinking 17 coffees), but what about the fact that being on the Pill will make a latte hit you twice as hard? Or that there's a peak time in the morning to drink caffeine? Hey? Hmm? Here we go…

Being on the Pill will make a latte hit you twice as hard

What?! This is brand-new information. But seriously, according to research, a woman using birth control will experience a double whammy in terms of the effects of caffeine. Why? Because caffeine, much like nuclear waste (lol), has a half-life of four or five hours before the concentration drops to 50% and you experience the full crash that anyone who has ever drank three flat whites in a row knows all too well.

Caffeine is broken down by an enzyme called cytochrome P450 1A2, and birth control inhibits it, making it harder for the little guy to do its job, resulting in the caffeine having much more of an effect. You can do shit faster, for longer. Pregnancy also has the same effect, but a lot of women cut out caffeine so don't notice.

Eating broccoli and smoking will lessen the effect of aforementioned latte

Doesn't have to be a latte, could refer to any caffeine based beverage. Anyway, while the aforementioned enzyme that breaks down caffeine is inhibited by birth control and pregnancy, it's helped along by smoking and eating broccoli. So if you munch on the green stuff while sipping the brown stuff, you'll get way less of a coffee high. And yes, we're aware that 'munch on the green stuff while sipping the brown stuff' sounds oddly rude. But it's yet another reason to give up smoking –when you do, you'll appreciate coffee so much more. So probably go easy on the double espressos if you're a born again non-smoker, because the increased strength might knock you out. Or, in some cases, make you vom because your body's just not used to that sort of strength. 

There are optimum times throughout the day to drink a coffee

So your body releases cortisol – a hormone that makes you feel awake - in the first hours of the day, giving you a natural caffeine-like boost. So if you drink coffee during that natural caffeinated high, you'll end up getting a caffeine crash and the same time as the levels of cortisol drop, which will make you feel haunted. The simple solution is to time the coffees with the crashes – have a coffee three to four hours after you wake up, then again between 1.30pm and 5.30pm as that's when your second cortisol dip should be happening. God, we sound so informed right now. 

You might be be pre-disposed to have panic attacks after drinking caffeine

Yep, scientists believe that some people inherit a gene that affects the way they process caffeine, because it makes that person more anxious, in general. Basically, if you have a variant of a gene known as ADORA2A, an americano is more likely to make you trip balls – and if you have another, different, variant of the gene, it's associated with both caffeine-induced anxiety and having panic attacks. 

If you've ever had a panic attack, or regularly suffer from them, then research says you're more likely to have an attack after drinking caffeine, than someone who isn't susceptible to anxiety – a recent study found that 52% of patients suffering from panic attacks had an attack after drinking coffee, whereas none of the control participants did. And those with performance social anxiety disorder – a type of social anxiety heightened if you think you're being watched – had way more panic attacks after drinking coffee than any of the other anxiety groups. So, if you hate public speaking, walking into rooms where everyone is seated, being the centre of attention or using public toilets (all symptoms of PSAD) then watch your caffeine intake, for God's sake. 

Like this? You might also be interested in... 

Food We Thought Was Bad For Us, That's Actually Good For Us (Beauty-wise)

What You'll Be Eating In 2015: The Food And Drink Trends To Watch Out For

The Flat White Just Landed In America. And It's Sort Of Here. But WTF Is It?

Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

Picture: @annarosejay

Tags: Food