The most popular beverage (part 1)

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Probably you already guessed, yes it’s coffee! The earth’s population is around 8 billion people, and about 1 billion of them are daily coffee drinkers. However, 66 percent of Americans drink coffee every day. 

Coffee is a drink made by coffee beans (plants) that can be consumed hot or cold. What makes coffee so attractive is caffeine, which has many benefits such as its energizing effect, but also many negative side effects as well, such as anxiety. According to the Alcohol and Drugs Foundation ‘‘caffeine is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages traveling between the brain and the body”. Caffeine is the most popular stimulant drug around the word, should we be concerned about that? Maybe. What then is the science behind caffeine — looking at its benefits, risks and genetic influences?

In our our modern lives, caffeine has become a ubiquitous companion, offering the often much-needed jolt to kickstart our mornings or power through the day or late-night work hours. But beyond its energizing effects, caffeine has a complex array of impacts on our body, influenced not only by our lifestyle choices but also by our genetics. 

Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound that is found in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cacao pods, and it acts as a central nervous system stimulant. Upon consumption it quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier, blocking the action of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for promoting sleep and relaxation. By inhibiting adenosine, caffeine promotes wakefulness, alertness, and improved concentration.

Genetic factors also influence caffeine’s effects, so not everyone reacts to caffeine in the same way. Genetics play a significant role in this variability. Certain genes affect how quickly the body metabolizes caffeine, for instance variations in the CYP1A2 gene dictate whether a person is a fast or slow caffeine metabolizer. Those with a faster metabolism may not feel caffeine’s effects as intensely or for as long as those who metabolize it slowly. 

Caffeine is not only found in coffee but also found in tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and energy shots. Actually, energy shots have the highest caffeine intake of all. Just 2 fl.oz of energy drink often contains 200mg caffeine. 1 fl.oz of espresso on the other hand contains on average around 64mg caffeine. 

There are some potential benefits, when you are not consuming excessive amounts of caffeine. The most well-known effect is its ability to enhance focus and alertness. It stimulates the release of adrenaline, which can enhance physical performance. Surprisingly, this has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

There are also some potential negative side effects of caffeine intake which include anxiety, insomnia, sleep disturbance, digestion issues, and increases in heart rate. In addition, if you are a slow metabolizer, caffeine intake can harm your physical performance. 

Studies are often a little confusing about the benefits of caffeine, for example recent research continues to uncover more about caffeine’s impacts. A 2022 study found that caffeine may affect cardiovascular health differently based on the individual’s genetic makeup, suggesting that some people might need to limit their intake to avoid heart-related issues. On the other hand, research has explored how caffeine consumption might influence longevity and mental health, with some studies indicating that moderate intake could correlate with longer life spans and reduced depression risk.

Like most diet studies, these were based on survey studies in which they asked the individual’s opinion, reactions and feelings. And if you’re enjoying consuming coffee daily then most likely you won’t want to give it up because of some potential negative health consequences.

In the end, caffeine is a complex compound with various effects on the human body, influenced by genetic factors and consumption habits. While it offers notable benefits, it also poses risks if consumed in excess. Understanding your genetic predisposition to metabolizing caffeine can help you adjust your intake to suit your personal health profile.

In part 2 I will address genetic factors and how to understand whether you are a slow or fast metabolizer, even without having to take a genetic test. Also, if you drink regularly, have you ever thought that you might be addicted to coffee? We will look at that and what are the best strategies if you would like to quit or reduce your caffeine consumption. Lastly, what about the neurological diseases and plant toxicity? Until then, enjoy your coffee…

Resources:

Balance Coffee. https://balancecoffee.co.uk/blogs/blog/global-coffee-consumption-statistics

Food and Beverage Insider. “Coffee consumption hits record high in US”. https://www.foodbeverageinsider.com/beverage-development/coffee-consumption-hits-record-high-in-us

NCA. “NCA releases Atlas of American Coffee”. https://www.ncausa.org/newsroom/nca-releases-atlas-of-american-coffee

Alcohol and Drug Foundation. “What is caffeine?”. https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/caffeine/

Kids Health. “Caffeine”. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/child-caffeine.html

European Food and Safety Authority. “Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine”. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4102

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Caffeine and bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women”. https://ajcn.nutrition.org/article/S0002-9165(23)18480-2/abstract

National Library of Medicine. “Coffee Consumption and Risk of Dementia and Alzheimers Disease: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213481/

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competition history

Ayda competes regularly in fitness competitions and is currently preparing for the 2023 North American championships.

NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
CPA Toronto, 2021

You’ve probably heard so many people say “I love what I do”, BUT in my case I can truly say it from my heart. I’ve competed in sports all my life, but it wasn’t so long ago that I really understood that actually I can only ever compete with myself.

“You are perfect, until compare yourself with someone else”

I started contest prep in 2011, and since then I didn’t stop competing. In some competitions I got first place, in some it went not so well, but every competition that I prepared for taught me something more about myself and helped me take the correct direction, which I believe has shaped my work and my life in such a positive way.

When I competed in my first bikini competition I had just moved from my home country Turkey to Canada, and was getting used to the Canadian lifestyle — and, of course, the language too, which was the hardest part for me. I always wanted to do a fitness or bikini competition, but when I was still in Turkey the work and cultural differences made it so hard to do.

So I was in Vancouver BC, working at Steve Nash Fitness Club, and one of my co-workers, who was a competitor herself, asked me “why you are not competing?” I started asking myself and questioning if I could do it? I’d never done anything like it before… Maybe you’re asking yourself the same questions right now! Of course I told myself “absolutely, I can’’. And my competition journey began!

Each show that I competed in gave me more knowledge about my body, and how I can improve. Of course, it’s not easy to correctly identify what’s missing with training and nutrition, and this learning process and all of the experiences pushed me to learn more… I’ve been a personal trainer since 1993, but I wanted more and began my nutrition studies. I finished my Comprehensive Nutrition and Sports Nutrition degrees.

And yes, I am still competing! You can see a list of all of the competitions that I’ve competed in further down this page. And right now, AGAIN, I am getting ready for my next show…!

I’ll warn you right now, it wasn’t easy at all. The easiest part was the training, which was already part of my daily life. But posing, dieting, supplementation, getting a bikini, finding a trainer… This was much tougher, not the mention the cost for the registration, jewelry, tanning, hair and make-up, they cost a lot too. 

But I wouldn’t let anything stop me, and right after my first show — WBFF in May, 2011 — I immediately started looking for the next show to compete in. I was hooked!

I am so happy to be able to help other competitors who are willing to work and improve their mind and health at the same time. My goal is to create healthy and happy bikini competitors, who want to challenge themselves and put in the work that needs to be done to reach their goals. There is really no easy way to get there… But there is a smart way.

I look forward to working together and sharing my knowledge with YOU to get you in the best shape of your LIFE!!!!! 

AYDA HAS COMPETED IN

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