In a recent study, scientists from the University of Toronto and other places who wanted to understand how drinking a lot of coffee affects our kidneys. They had a hunch that the answer might lie in our genes, specifically a gene called CYP1A2.
Let’s imagine two friends, Alice and Bob, both love their coffee. They can’t start their day without a few cups. But here’s where it gets interesting: Alice and Bob have different versions of the CYP1A2 gene.
Alice is a slow caffeine metabolizer, meaning her body takes its time to break down caffeine. Bob, on the other hand, is a fast metabolizer. His body gets rid of caffeine quickly.
The scientists discovered that people like Alice, who drink a lot of coffee and are slow metabolizers, had almost three times more signs of kidney problems than fast metabolizers like Bob.
They looked at things like how much of a certain protein was in their urine, how well their kidneys were filtering, and their blood pressure – all important signs of kidney health.
Now, coffee is a bit of a puzzle. Some previous research said that caffeine could hurt the kidneys, leading to problems or even failure.
Other studies suggested that coffee might actually protect the kidneys. But this new study added a twist to the tale – it’s not just about how much coffee you drink, but also about your genes.
The scientists focused on people who drank a lot of coffee – we’re talking about three or more cups a day, which is like having 300 mg of espresso.
That’s quite a bit, considering that in places like Canada and the U.S., adults are advised to keep it under 400 mg per day for good health.
Interestingly, about half of the people in the study, and in general, are like Alice – slow at metabolizing caffeine. This genetic variation is pretty common.
Nowadays, many companies and clinics test for the CYP1A2 gene to give personalized advice about caffeine, as it can influence the risk of several conditions.
The scientists looked at three things to measure kidney problems: albuminuria (when there’s too much of a protein called albumin in the urine), hyperfiltration (when kidneys filter too much, too fast), and high blood pressure.
They found that these issues were significantly more in heavy coffee drinkers who were also slow caffeine metabolizers.
This discovery was important because it showed that when it comes to diet and health, one size doesn’t fit all. Our genetic makeup can influence how our bodies react to what we eat and drink.
The researchers hope this study will make people more aware of personalized nutrition – the idea that what’s good for one person might not be the same for another.
If you’re interested in keeping your kidneys healthy, this study is a reminder to think about your coffee habits, especially if you’re someone who loves multiple cups a day.
It also highlights the importance of understanding our own bodies, including our genetic makeup, to make healthier choices.
This intriguing research was conducted by Ahmed El-Sohemy and his team and published in the journal JAMA Network Open. It’s a step forward in understanding the complex relationship between our diet, our genes, and our health.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about vitamin that may protect you from type 2 diabetes, and results showing this common chemical in food may harm your blood pressure.
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