kopi


Can 4 Red Bull really kill a man ?

2 years ago, a Bolivian man working in Oxfordshire, UK died of heart attack after consuming 4 cans of the ‘It gives you wings’ energy drink, Red Bull

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Last week, Oxfordshire coroner recorded a verdict of “death by unascertained natural causes” which he compared the death to sudden adult death syndrome which is linked to cardiac illness.

What killed Alfredo Duran since the coroner stated that he was healthy and Red Bull has such a long sale record as far back as 1982 and had since sold 3.5 billion drinks in 140 countries in 2007?

Overdose of caffeine and an enlarged heart are probably the resultant cause.

As he had to work up to five night shifts a week, 40-year-old Alfredo, a father-of-two was known to consume at least 4 cans of the Red Bull each night. The amount of caffeine found in him although not fatal by itself, could have triggered a card­iac arrest for someone who has already an enlarged heart. According to the pathologist, this will not have any effect in people with a normal heart.

Looking at a chart from the American Beverages Association, taking a can of Red Bull is pretty close to a cup of instant coffee (hmm, Sprite & 7-Up no caffeine).

Although caffeine is not addictive, a consumer may go for additional can of energy drink to stay awake once he starts to lose that peppy feeling.

However, it is also known that when people take too much caffeine, side effects like nervousness, insomnia and elevated blood pressure will be experienced. That being the case, one can imagine how it will be like downing 4 cans of the Red Bull. In fact, some countries banned it because of fears of causing high blood pressure.

Still, Red Bull said that “clin­ical tests and toxicological evaluations by independent experts had concluded it was safe to drink for adults” . Just don’t drink more than 2 cans, they said. Understandably, they are in a market which according to market research firm ACNielsen clocked $4.7 billion in 2007 up from $3.5 billion in 2006 and expecting to grow to $10 billion by 2010.

Yes, many consumers will swear by it as several studies have indicated that energy drinks may help boost cognitive performance, verbal reasoning and attention levels. However, other experts are saying that there is nothing unique in them that sustain the alertness. Rather, it is the work of the high sugar and caffeine in them which one can easily get from other sources like coffee and candy bars.

For me, no coffee during my “night-shift” writing this blog. I will just head for the aromatic kopitiam’s coffee-O in the morning.

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Like a Garfield poster I seen a decade ago, “Don’t talk to me until I have my morning coffee”, coffee has been Morning Savor for many in the world. In Singapore and many neighboring countries, kopi (thick coffee with sugar and milk), kopi-O (thick coffee with sugar only), kopi-C (thick coffee with evaporated milk) are the switches that turn on the human machinery before each day begins.

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Now, contrary to previous research which said that people who drank coffee had a reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, and those who drank the most coffee had the lowest risk, the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina is reporting that Caffeine appears to disrupt glucose metabolism in a way that could be harmful to people with type-2 diabetes’. It may interfere with the process that transports glucose from the blood into muscle and other cells in the body to be burned as fuel and that also triggers the release of the hormone adrenaline, which can elevate blood sugar levels.

Will all the coffee sellers alert diabetics and ask them to settle for decaf ? Will this research be reversed again in the foreseeable future ?

Coffee Drinking Increases Cholesterol

Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, elevates cholesterol by hijacking a receptor in an intestinal pathway critical to its regulation, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the July issue of the journal Molecular Endocrinology. 

In fact, cafestol is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent known, said Dr. David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology at BCM, and Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts, a postdoctoral student and first author of the report. Cafetiere, or French press coffee, boiled Scandinavian brew and espresso contain the highest levels of the compound, which is removed by paper filters used in most other brewing processes. Removing caffeine does not remove cafestol, however.

Studies by a co-author – Dr. Martijn B. Katan of Vriye Univeriteit Amsterdam, Institute for Health Sciences, The Netherlands – indicate that consuming five cups of French press coffee per day (30 milligrams of cafestol) for four weeks raises cholesterol in the blood 6 to 8 percent.  

However, while the cholesterol increase associated with cafestol had been identified previously, mainly through the work of Katan and his colleagues, the mechanism by which it acted remained a mystery. It was a mystery that Moore and Ricketts decided to address in the laboratory.

For a long time, Ricketts said she was stymied because of paradoxical effects of cafestol in the liver.

However, the discovery of a gene called fibroblast growth factor 15 or FGF 15 opened the door to understanding how cafestol affects farsenoid receptor X or FXR in the intestine. FXR was first identified as a bile acid receptor in studies in several laboratories, including Moore’s.  

“It is part of the body’s own way of regulating levels of cholesterol,” said Ricketts.

Through research in the test tube and in mice, she and Moore found that in the intestine, cafestol activates FXR and induces FGF15, which reduces the effects of three liver genes that regulate cholesterol levels.

While it is still unclear whether cafestol itself reaches the liver, the finding does confirm that the effect of the compound is in the intestine, which is directly involved in the transport of bile acids. 

Moore’s interest in cafestol began several years ago when his wife read an article on coffee’s effect on cholesterol. She suggested that he might change his brewing method, which involved a permanent coffee filter. The paper filters, the article suggested, removed the coffee oils, which contain cafestol.

Moore researched the problem, and found papers by co-author Katan. He was already working on FXR, and began to think about whether cafestol might be affecting that signal in the cholesterol pathway.  

Others who took part in the work include: Mark V. Boekschoten, Guido J.E.J. Hooiveld and Michael Müller of Wageningen University, Division of Human Nutrition, The Netherlands; Arja J. Kreeft, Corina J.A. Moen, Rune R. Frants of Center for Human and Clinical Genetics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Soemini Kasanmoentalib of the Department of Medical Statistics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Sabine M. Post and Hans MG Princen of TNO Pharma in Leiden, The Netherlands; J. Gordon Porter of Incyte Corporation, Palo Alto, CA.; and Marten H. Hofker of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands.

Funding for this study came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research and the Netherlands Heart Foundation.

Note: This story was extracted from Science Daily and  adapted from a news release issued by Baylor College of Medicine.

What’s in coffee drinking that lowers gout risk ?

There is no answer as it is not caffeine.

It is recently researched by the University of British Columbia that coffee (including decaffeinated) drinking (4 or more coffees a day) is more likely to have a much lower uric acid level in the blood.

I will take it that the kind of coffee mentioned in the research is the usual “diluted” “no-kick” morning coffee found in hotels and fast food restaurants and not those dark and strong kopi (coffee) that we drink in the kopitiam (coffee shop) in Singapore and other Asian countries. Drinking 4 or more local kopi per day even for a coffee drinker like me will be too much for my heart.

Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines. Although purines are found in all of our body’s tissues, uric acid can build up in the blood when a person eats too many foods high in purines, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies.

When the kidneys do not get rid of enough of the uric acid, it can later crystallize out of the blood into the joints. The result is gout, one of the most painful forms of arthritis. It can wake one up in the middle of the night with pain, swelling, heat and or stiffness in the joints in the big toe, ankles, heels, knees, insteps, wrists, fingers, etc.

A gout attack can be brought on by stressful events, too much beer, or eating too much red meat or drugs, or another illness. Early attacks usually get better within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment. The next attack may not occur for months or even years.

The main way to tackle the condition is to take anti-inflammatory pills, change diet and drink more water, or in more severe cases, to take more powerful drugs to reduce uric acid levels in the blood.

Researchers said that coffee drinking can lead to lower insulin levels in the blood, and that there is an established link between higher insulin levels and higher uric acid levels. However, high blood uric acid levels does not necessarily lead to gout attack as some people with high uric acid levels throughout life don’t suffer such attack.

So it looks like it is about not letting the uric acid crystallises out of the blood into the joints. That means healthy kidney, healthy diet with balanced purine-producing food. So, apart from my kopi-O (black coffee with sugar), I’m continuing with my daily consumption of Clerodendranthus Spicatus or Cat Whiskers tea and start drinking more red wine than beer.