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A New Study Finds A Cup of Java Could Change Your Genes

By HERWriter
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cup-of-java-could-alter-genes iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Change your genetic makeup by drinking up ... Coffee, that is. A new study published on ScienceDaily.com found that “exercise and caffeine change your DNA in the same way."

The study was reported initially in the March issue of Cell Metabolism. The study looked at the effect of exercise on inactive men and women who were in good health. The findings were that in a span of minutes the subjects’ DNA experienced an immediate effect.

“Perhaps even more tantalizing, the study suggests that the caffeine in your morning coffee might also influence muscle in essentially the same way.” Researchers say it does not affect our “underlying genetic code” but the actual DNA in the muscle.

They describe these findings as a possible precursor to being able to reprogram genetics of, “muscle for strength and, ultimately, in the structural and metabolic benefits of exercise.”

Experts at the Institute of Sweden where the study was conducted, compare our muscles to plastic, saying it takes on the results of what we do. In other words, if you are sedentary there is no change, if you activate them, they will change.

The comparison to caffeine came about “[w]hen the researchers made muscles contract in lab dishes, they saw a similar loss of DNA methyl groups. Exposure of isolated muscle to caffeine had the same effect.”

These modifications were measured by “chemical markings” on the skeletal muscle DNA which researchers say were less after both exercise and exposure to caffeine.

I have been known to hit Starbucks on the way to a workout and I will say coffee does pump me up to accelerate my speed and intensity. Many feel the same reaction, and for this reason caffeine and its effect on weight loss is another area of study in relationship to metabolic efficiency and speed.

The Mayo Clinic says that the relationship between weight loss and caffeine may not be “definitive” but there are a few theories. “Caffeine may stimulate thermogenesis — one way your body generates heat and energy from digesting food. But this probably isn't enough to produce significant weight loss.”

The Mayo Clinic says that caffeine in moderation is ok, but excessive amounts can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, irritability and sleeplessness.
At Starbucks, I typically get plain coffee. Moderation or going for a smaller size for the fancier drinks can help limit the calories if you feel the need to indulge.

The Mayo Clinic warns that there are a lot of extra calories and fat in specialty drinks. For example, according to LiveStrong.com, “A 20 oz. Eggnog Latte weighs-in at 610 calories. A 24 oz. Frappuccino has 470 calories. If you add whipped cream, the drink contains 580 calories.”

Online References:

“Exercise and Caffeine Change Your DNA in the Same Way, Study Suggests – ScienceDaily.com” Science Daily. Web. 20 March 2012.

“Does caffeine help with weight loss? – MayoClinic.com.” The Mayo Clinic. Web. 20 March 2012.

“Calories in Starbucks Coffee Drinks - LiveStrong.com.” Live Strong. Web 27 Sept. 2011.

Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training.

Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com. She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.

Reviewed March 21, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment4 Comments


Moderation like everything else in our diet, I feel is key when for drinking coffee.

March 23, 2012 - 2:24pm

I have always said I will quit anything for the good of my health except my morning cup of coffee!!

March 23, 2012 - 2:20pm

Coffee wakes up my brain, not my body...........LOL

March 22, 2012 - 3:33pm

I wish decaf would work!

March 22, 2012 - 12:24pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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