How coffee affects your kidney health

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Researchers from the University of Toronto and other institutions have uncovered an interesting twist in how coffee affects our health, specifically our kidneys.

They’ve found that the impact of heavy coffee consumption on kidney health might depend on a person’s genes.

The study focuses on a gene called CYP1A2. This gene is responsible for how quickly our bodies break down caffeine.

People have different versions of this gene; some make them slow at processing caffeine, while others do it much faster.

The researchers discovered that heavy coffee drinkers with the slow-processing version of the gene had nearly three times the indicators of kidney disease compared to those with the fast-processing version.

This finding is crucial because it helps explain why studies on coffee and kidney health have shown mixed results in the past.

Some research suggested that coffee might harm the kidneys, leading to problems like impaired kidney function or even kidney failure. Other studies, however, indicated that coffee could actually protect against kidney disease.

The difference in how people metabolize caffeine seems to play a big role. Fast metabolizers can clear caffeine from their bodies more effectively, avoiding the negative effects that come from caffeine buildup.

Slow metabolizers, on the other hand, might end up with too much caffeine in their system, which could harm their kidneys.

The study also pointed out that the amount of coffee you drink matters. They found a significant risk of kidney problems in people who drank three or more cups of coffee a day, equivalent to about 300 mg of caffeine (roughly the amount in Italian espresso).

This is close to the daily caffeine limit recommended by health guidelines in Canada and the U.S., which is no more than 400 mg.

Interestingly, about half of the people in both the study group and the general population have the gene variant that makes them slow caffeine metabolizers.

This widespread prevalence has led many companies and clinics to include the CYP1A2 gene in personalized genetic tests. Knowing your version of the gene can inform you about your risk for various conditions linked to caffeine consumption.

The researchers looked at three signs of kidney problems: albuminuria (excess protein in the urine), hyperfiltration (a high rate of blood filtration in the kidneys), and high blood pressure. Their findings could lead to more personalized dietary advice, taking into account individual genetic backgrounds.

The hope is that this study will highlight the need for personalized nutrition recommendations. Understanding your genetic makeup can help you make better choices for your kidney health and overall well-being.

The study, led by Ahmed El-Sohemy and his team, was published in JAMA Network Open. It’s part of a growing body of research suggesting that when it comes to diet and health, one size does not fit all.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about plant nutrient that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

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