Is Caffeine good for you?
I’ve thought about this for a long time, maybe since high school. I remember then having coffee, loving the taste, but not really feeling any different from it. I’d drink it, and think “Okay so aren’t I supposed to have all kinds of energy now?” but it’s not like that at all. Now that I’m older, for whatever reason coffee, and caffeine affect me differently now. If I’ve gone without caffeine for weeks and I go back to drinking a single 8 fl oz. cup of coffee I will stay awake until 2 or 4pm no problem. For me the problem comes in, I suppose with my genetics. If I don’t have a tolerance built up for it and I accidentally drink something with coffee then it will randomly upset my clock and offset it into the future. For someone who might need to stay awake late like a truck driver or pilot, where loss of consciousness could mean loss of life, then a secure consciousness is important.
However, if you know anything about the human body and medicine, then you know the human body has a rhythm like timing belt and cylinders in a car, the heart beats. Your body also wakes and rests on a rhythm known as the circadian rhythm. When these mechanisms are disturbed your heart can have tachycardia, palpitations, or cardiac arrest. This is because your heart has a specific sequence to push blood forward. If the sequence is screwed up then the pulses in the heart can effectively cancel out, causing the heart to fail in pushing blood forward.
When I was younger I saw a documentary about caffeine where they showed some sort of microbiome under the microscope being exposed to caffeine, and obviously it sped up immediately for a little while until later when it just ceased moving. It seemed as if the little cells sped up and shortened their life spans from their exposure to caffeine. I saw this and wondered is this perhaps similar to what would happen to us? We’re obviously much larger organisms as humans, our LD50 and ED50 and tolerance is much higher than some cells under a microscope. However when scientists look at the ED50 and LD50, those numbers are instantaneous, and no one tracks or even cares about those dosages over the long term. Maybe a cup per day would stimulate you, but what does a cup per day over 10 years do to you and your body rhythm?
The next thing I’m curious about is why would the coffee plant even produce caffeine? If you think about the biological costs of producing caffeine, the coffee plant obviously must have a reason to produce caffeine. It must have a reason why the plant would have evolved the cellular equipment to produce the caffeine molecule. Why would coffee plants produce caffeine? Well plants fall victim to some similar pathogens humans have to fight. Plants produce seeds that they need to reproduce. In other species sometimes these seeds are eaten by predators or destroyed by bacteria or fungus. Human agriculture sometimes uses pesticides and insecticides to protect fruit growing on plants. But what if the plants made their own insecticides? This is why I suspect coffee plants produce caffeine as an insecticide/pesticide to protect their coffee beans. Without coffee beans, you obviously can’t have coffee plants.