Coffee, Dopamine & Feeling Good
Morning everyone, Helena here for episode two of our weekly webcast diving into the world of TrueStart and sharing what’s on my mind!
Click the video to give it a watch, or if you prefer to read then this blog covers everything I talk about in about 3 minutes :)
It’s 11am on Monday 7th September and today I'm drinking a Vanilla Coconut cold brew - my second one of the day!
Today I’m going to be telling you all about the link between coffee, dopamine and feeling good which I hope will teach you maybe something new about caffeine and how it affects us. But first..
🧐 Zooming in - Pimping Dalgonas at the Energy Hub
Last week Paige organised a pimp our Dalgona coffee competition! Now, if you don’t know what Dalgona coffee is, it’s a glass with ice and your favourite milk, topped with a whipped TrueStart Coffee and sugar delight then decorated with popcorn, chocolate and whatever else you can find. It’s mega indulgent and really fun.
So each of us made a pimped up Dalgona creation! Harry and Nate’s entries were already half-drunk by the time we took the pic (their argument was that their creations were too irresistible so should clearly win) - then we had a beauty of a classic Dalgona by Paige, Simon made a super fancy Dalgona in a martini glass, Claire got involved from home with a Dalgona in a snazzy glass milk bottle then mine was a turbo - I used cold brew for the base instead of milk.
We had loads of toppings on the go - Propercorn, Grenade bars, Tony's Chocolonely, Love Raw chocolate cups, Mighty Fine Honeycomb bars..
The winner was voted by you guys on Instagram and your fave was Simon’s fancy Dalgona! I think I was robbed in all honesty - I mean a turbo Dalgona? How good is that. But you win some you lose some ;)
Get yourself a Dalgona bundle here: https://www.truestartcoffee.com/products/pimp-your-dalgona
🌈🤩 Coffee, Dopamine & Feeling Good!
So I’ve been utterly blown away by the response to my webcast and Tracy’s podcast interview about neurodiversity - it is SO obvious that everyone, whether neurotypical or neurodivergent, is interested in learning more about our brains! You’re not alone because it’s a subject I’m obsessed with, although the more I realise how flipping huge and complex neuroscience is! Although I suppose that’s fairly obvious.
A subject I’ve been asked a fair amount about is the link between coffee and the brain, including how it makes us feel good. I’m categorically not a neuroscientist, or any sort of scientist for that matter, this is simply me imparting some of the fascinating learning I’ve been doing and I hope you enjoy it.
Feel-Good for 500 Years!
Coffee is obviously a big part of many of our lives, and it has been making humans feel good since the 15th century believe it or now! It’s really an intrinsic part of human life all over the world, and it is also the reason that caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world.
The list of what coffee does for us is extensive, it makes us feel more alert, can help us with cognition and burning fat and gaining extra energy for physical performance, it’s full of antioxidants like polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids, which is just one of the reasons that coffee is linked to reducing the risk of a variety of diseases including type 2 diabetes and liver diseases.
Caffeine’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties have even proved effective in fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
There are actually several studies on the benefits of taking caffeine for memory and learning, as well as slowing down cognitive decline. For the most part, caffeine enhancing effects are attributed to the fact it antagonises our adenosine receptors, and it has also been established that caffeine is protective to your brain and makes it resilient to stress, aging, and neurological diseases by protecting neurons against certain toxins. For instance, clinical trials have placed caffeine as a neuroprotective agent against Parkinson's disease.
Caffeine & Dopamine - A Game-Changing Revelation
On top of this, caffeine has also been shown to increase dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in a part of our brains called the ventral striatum, which is associated with the limbic system - so our emotions and memory - and is a really important part of the circuitry for decision making and reward-related behavior.
Interestingly, caffeine doesn’t actually increase the production of dopamine, just the receptor availability, and even more excitingly, there is a paradox with caffeine and dopamine: Caffeine has been shown to both improve dopamine signaling in the brain, but also prevents the negative effects of excessive dopamine signaling.
Now this is a game-changing revelation, especially for people living with the trials, tribulations and triumphs of inhibited dopamine flow, and more of us are affected by neurological differences that you might think. It’s one of the many things that makes each human so unique.
So for me, with a brain that has unusually low dopamine receptor availability, coffee effectively helps me treat that and function much better on a daily basis when it comes to executive function skills like working memory, impulsivity and focus, and organisation, as well as overall mood, motor control and emotional regulation.
Right I’m stopping there!
Further reading if you fancy it..
Study: Caffeine increases striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in the human brain: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4462609/
Article: The science behind why coffee makes us happy: https://thriveglobal.com/stories/why-does-coffee-make-us-feel-so-happy-3
Study: Caffeine Protects Dopaminergic Neurons From Dopamine-Induced Neurodegeneration: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2018.00137/full