Yes! Science-approved: Coffee naps

Here’s one that we cannot not pass on: the power of the coffee nap. Via Vox:

If you’re feeling sleepy and want to wake yourself up — and have 20 minutes or so to spare before you need to be fully alert — there’s something you should try. It’s more effective than drinking a cup of coffee or taking a quick nap.

It’s drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a quick nap. This is called a coffee nap.

[snip]

To understand a coffee nap, you have to understand how caffeine affects you. After it’s absorbed through your small intestine and passes into your bloodstream, it crosses into your brain. There, it fits into receptors that are normally filled by a similarly-shaped molecule, called adenosine.

[snip]

But here’s the trick of the coffee nap: sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain. If you nap for longer than 15 or 20 minutes, your brain is more likely to enter deeper stages of sleep that take some time to recover from. But shorter naps generally don’t lead to this so-called “sleep inertia” — and it takes around 20 minutes for the caffeine to get through your gastrointestinal tract and bloodstream anyway.

So if you nap for those 20 minutes, you’ll reduce your levels of adenosine just in time for the caffeine to kick in. The caffeine will have less adenosine to compete with, and will thereby be even more effective in making you alert.

You can click on the above link to get the how-to to maximize the coffee nap effect.

Then it’s off to your best Ashtanga practice ever.

Posted by Steve

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Even we don’t go this far with our coffee

No coffee, no prana, right?

Apparently, for some, it should be “no coffee, butter and MCT oil, no prana.” Per the New York Times:

It seems these days everyone is a coffee evangelist, but there are perhaps no proselytizers more fervent than those of Bulletproof coffee, a creation of the technology entrepreneur and biohacker Dave Asprey.

The recipe — a riff on the yak butter tea Mr. Asprey found restorative while hiking in Tibet — calls for low-mold coffee beans; at least two tablespoons of unsalted butter (grass-fed, which is higher in Omega 3s and vitamins); and one to two tablespoons of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, a type of easily digestible fat. Mr. Asprey claims having the 450-plus-calorie cup of coffee instead of breakfast suppresses hunger, promotes weight loss and provides mental clarity.

[snip]

Fans insist the beverage tastes like an amazingly creamy latte, though Mr. Rubin was more exclamatory: “like crisp toasted rye bread slathered with lots of butter blended in hot coffee,” he wrote in an email. “A wild classic-tasting breakfast in a cup.” For best results, the chef Seamus Mullen, another enthusiast, advised a hand blender instead of an electric one, because the electric blade heats up the oil, denaturing it and changing the taste. And start small with the MCT oil, which used to be given to hospital patients lacking enzymes to digest fat. “It can wreck your digestive tract,” Mr. Mullen said.

Being Bulletproof means never traveling light. After a MacGyver attempt to make coffee in a Chicago hotel room, Brandon Routh, who plays the superhero The Atom on the CW show “Arrow,” now carries ground beans, containers of clarified butter, a silicone squeeze bottle of MCT oil, plus a hand blender and Aeropress filter.

“My energy levels are through the roof compared to what they used to be,” said Mr. Routh, who learned of the drink at a bachelor party, of all places. He added: “My lines just kind of sink in and they’re there when I need them.”

Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative doctor, recommends Bulletproof coffee to clients (who include the actress Gwyneth Paltrow) for “mind clarity and a bit of pep,” but cautioned that the drink is not nutritious because it lacks much protein and a variety of vitamins or minerals.

And we found a loose Ashtanga connection. That’s because my mind is so sharp — thanks just to black coffee.

Posted by Steve

Coffee culture comes to India

We had to pass this piece from the Los Angeles Times along:

Although India has long been one of the world’s major coffee producers, the country’s name is practically synonymous with tea. For most of the last century, it was the world’s biggest tea-growing nation, renowned for its Darjeeling and Assam varieties, and it’s still among the top consumers, with roadside chai stalls a fixture in every throbbing city and distant hamlet.

Ask for a cup of joe in most of India, though, and you’ll get instant coffee crystals drowning in hot milk and sugar, or served over ice with even more sugar. So few Indians drink brewed coffee that virtually all its best crop is exported to countries such as Italy, where the beans are used in name-brand espresso blends and sold at a huge markup.

Now, however, a handful of Indian farmers and entrepreneurs are trying to hook some of their compatriots on coffee by selling gourmet, freshly roasted Indian beans to a burgeoning urban middle class.

[snip]

The effort to build a domestic market for Indian-grown coffee is among the latest signs of this country’s economic expansion. It also represents a bid to lift farmers from the bottom of the supply chain and connect them with Indian consumers who have long viewed coffee as an exotic luxury item.

The shade-grown coffee bushes that spill across the gently sloping hillsides of southern India are, for most farmers, simply a cash crop, Ross said. He compared it to West African cocoa whose farmers have never tasted chocolate.

“A lot of farmers barely know they’re growing coffee,” said Ross, a 34-year-old former advertising man who launched his company in 2012. “To them it’s just another crop they sell to the West.”

Until recently, consumers in most of India couldn’t even buy homegrown coffee, at least not directly.

We certainly can attest to the lack of “real coffee.” I think the only place we had a good cup on our last trip was a Western-serving shop in Varanasi. It was a damn fine cup of coffee, though.

Posted by Steve

Put down that cup of coffee! We’re kidding. Drink up, as much as you want

The Atlantic is vying to be our favorite magazine. (Namarupa is still in the lead.)

Here’s why:

Officially, the American Medical Association recommends conservatively that “moderate tea or coffee drinking likely has no negative effect on health, as long as you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle.” That is a lackluster endorsement in light of so much recent glowing research. Not only have most of coffee’s purported ill effects been disproven — the most recent review fails to link it the development of hypertension — but we have so, so much information about its benefits. We believe they extend from preventing Alzheimer’s disease to protecting the liver. What we know goes beyond small-scale studies or limited observations. The past couple of years have seen findings, that, taken together, suggest that we should embrace coffee for reasons beyond the benefits of caffeine, and that we might go so far as to consider it a nutrient.

[snip]

That there were no major differences in risk reduction between regular and decaf coffee suggests there’s something in it, aside from its caffeine content, that could be contributing to these observed benefits. It also demonstrates that caffeine was in no way mitigating coffee’s therapeutic effects. Of course, what we choose to add to coffee can just as easily negate the benefits — various sugar-sweetened beverages were all significantly associated with an increased risk of diabetes. A learned taste for cream and sugar (made all the more enticing when they’re designed to smell like seasonal celebrations) is likely one of the reasons why we associate coffee more with decadence than prudence.

[snip]

But that caffeine is only mechanism behind coffee’s health effects is supported by a small study of 554 Japanese adults from October that looked at coffee and green tea drinking habits in relation to the bundle of risk factors for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes known together as metabolic syndrome. Only coffee — not tea — was associated with reduced risk, mostly because of dramatic reductions observed in serum triglyceride levels.

So aside from caffeine, just what are you getting in a cup, or two, or six? Thousands of mostly understudied chemicals that contribute to flavor and aroma, including plant phenols, chlorogenic acids, and quinides, all of which function as antioxidants. Diterpenoids in unfiltered coffee may raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. And, okay, there’s also ash which, to be fair, is no more healthful than you would think — though it certainly isn’t bad for you.

[snip]

And the more they drank, the longer they lived. If you’re into that sort of thing.

We’ll let you check out just what that last sentence is referring to — but how can it not be good?

If it weren’t almost 8 p.m., I’d fire the coffee maker up now.

Posted by Steve

 

Coffee, preschool and Yogananada

Quick little round-up of things for you.

First, you caught the latest study on coffee, yes? Link here and a friendly breakdown here:

Spearheaded by Marilyn Cornelis, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, the team investigated the link between genetics and coffee consumption. By analyzing DNA as well as data on 120,000 adults of European and African-American heritage, the researchers identified eight genetic variants that predispose individuals to seek out and drink caffeine.

“Our results show that people are naturally consuming the amount of coffee that allows them to maintain their optimal level of caffeine” to get that good caffeine feeling without becoming jittery, Cornelis told me. “If we need more, we’re reaching for it.”

[snip]

So what is it about coffee that may protect individuals from such major harms? And if coffee consumption is in part genetically determined, do certain people stand to benefit more from it?

“We need to understand why so many people like and drink coffee, and if we use that understanding to investigate coffee drinking in better detail, we might begin to understand the major illnesses that affect mankind,” said Peter Martin, director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies. “Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity, depression, coronary artery disease—you name it.”

We all need to keep our optimal prana.

Next up: Yoga for preschoolers. It is coming.

And finally, a review of the Yogananda film we mentioned shortly ago. Link here:

Less consistent are the re-enactments from Yogananda’s life, as well as stylized mystical images accompanied by narrated readings of his work. At times, these segments are distracting, as we hunger for more information about who this man was. In the end, we don’t get a three-dimensional portrait as much as an affirmation of his beliefs.

Nevertheless, this is a film that works both for followers and for those interested in knowing what yoga is truly about. Hint: It’s not about six-pack abs.

It isn’t?!

Posted by Steve

Meet the genes behind your morning pick-me-up

Scientists have unraveled coffee’s genome and determined that it developed caffeine independently of tea and cacao — proving (in my mind anyway) that caffeine is just that terrific a thing.

You can check out the full study, which came out this week, at Science right here. Here’s it broken down for you, via the LA Times:

Coffee developed its caffeine-generating capacity independently from its cousin, cacao, according to the first whole genome study of the plant behind the brew quaffed every morning by about 100 million Americans…

[snip]

Evolution favored caffeine production because the compound repels insects that prey on leaves and halts the germination of seeds from competing plants, giving coffee species a niche in which to thrive. Recent research also has suggested caffeine can help orient beneficial pollinators toward the coffee flower, Albert said.

[snip]

The largely French team of researchers used crushed stems, leaves and flower parts from Coffea canephora,one of the parents of the hybrid Coffea arabica, from which the bulk of coffee is brewed. They produced an annotated genome that consists of 710 million building blocks.

The ensuing database is expected to boost researchers’ ability to study the highly sensitive plant behind the top revenue-generating export of dozens of nations on four continents. About 39 countries exported 5.3 million metric tons coffee of coffee beans last year, according to the International Coffee Organization, a trade group.

As you might expect, this decoding of coffee’s building blocks could be used to economic ends: figuring out how to make coffee resistant to things like coffee rust or helping expand production.

We just need supplies to keep up with the growth of Ashtanga.

Posted by Steve