Four Most Valuable [4MV] Weekly Tips For Living Longer Better | Newsletter

4MV #180 What caffeine gives us in alertness and energy, it later takes back ✔ The biomolecular truth about coffee

Published over 1 year ago • 8 min read


I trust you're safe, fit and well.

All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦

Ironically, after the recent newsletter in which I focused totally on knee health, my right knee quietly "popped" while strolling with my dog last Sunday and immobilised me. The pain kept me awake most of the night.

It turned out to be a Baker Cyst - a sudden acute reaction to knee inflammation such as arthritis.

The good news is that other than the underlying cause, a Baker Cyst causes no structural problems and is, in most cases, cured with anti-arthritis medication. My pain has largely subsided, and my choice of an ongoing preventative remedy is stretching my knees more (see item #4).

Although I am not following a theme for this week's newsletter several caffeine articles caught my eye.

Coffee is a complex drink, with more than 1,000 chemical compounds, many of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A multitude of good and bad health outcomes have been attributed to the caffeine in coffee, only to be debunked when experiments with decaffeinated coffee produced the same effects!

It turns out that what coffee "gives us" in increased energy is only a forward loan, it takes it back from us later in the day - see item #2.

Exercise builds more than just physical resilience by stimulating parts of our brain that help us control our emotions. Consistency is the key - see item #1.

⭑ Exercise builds resilience - a little stress regularly helps your brain ✔
⭑ Caffeine makes you more alert, but watch for the drowsiness later ✔
⭑ Does coffee really help you get more from your exercise? Perhaps ...
⭑ For knee health, stretching helps - try these 3 at home ✔

01 How Exercise Can Help You Build Resilience At Any Age

Apparently, studies of stressed-out mice offer clues to why exercise can help us cope better with stress and become more resilient. This is important because other studies show that intentionally stressing our bodies through exercise can make us more resilient to various stressors, i.e. those of daily life.

One reason is that besides improving general brain health, exercise changes the neurochemistry of our brain. For example, exercise is known to increase galanin, a neurotransmitter, which is what happened with the mice who exercised.

Galanin is found in both the brain and our skin and is involved in regulating stress and energy. It is thought to help modulate emotions such as anxiety and depression.

⇒ Higher levels of galanin are associated with better mental health, and, therefore, higher resilience.

Exercise is also known to stimulate neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to adapt and reorganise itself - predominantly in our frontal cortex. A high-functioning frontal cortex is essential for better emotional regulation - a trait associated with resilience.

What this means for you: What kind of exercise is best for building resilience?

My answer is very simple - consistent exercise.

Preferably more than just activity, such as walking around the block, but if this is what you do consistently, then this will benefit your brain and mood.

Some advocates recommend short, intense, "stressful" exercises as a way of teaching our mind and body how to handle stress. I guess this is what the military might do.

Others say that aerobic exercise of 30 to 50 minutes several times a week works best.

And yet others say run, bike, swim or play pickleball.

All up, do what you enjoy and will do regularly and preferably something which gets you moving and breathing with a little vigour. Throwing a ball for your dog might well be enough.

Related: This One Exercise Will Reshape Your Body And Your Brain, If You’re Game


02 The Truth About Caffeine Debt Might Put You Off Your Coffee

Caffeine is known to affect the way our brain cells interact with a compound known as adenosine.

Adenosine is naturally produced in our brain cells and helps us to relax and feel sleepy. In the brain, adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning, it has a calming effect on our nervous system. It works by blocking the release of excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, thus reducing neural activity and helping to regulate wakefulness.

Caffeine disrupts this process by blocking the adenosine receptors, temporarily resulting in a more alert feeling. This brain stimulation can lead to the feeling of increased energy and focus, which is why caffeine is so popularly consumed.

⇒ Adenosine is released in the brain during periods of intense activity, such as during wakefulness, and it is believed to be responsible for the post-sleep grogginess and fatigue that can occur after sleep deprivation, or after staying in bed for too long, or due to excessive caffeine consumption

What this means for you: There is a catch.

The "energy" that caffeine "gives us" is just our own residual energy and alertness, which is not being down-rated by adenosine. While it feels energising, this little caffeine intervention is more a loan of the awake feeling, rather than a creation of any new energy.

This blocking effect of caffeine doesn’t last forever, and in the meantime, the adenosine concentration is increasing. When the caffeine lets go of the cell receptors and all that adenosine that has been waiting and building up latches on, the drowsy feeling comes back — sometimes with a vengeance.

The energy you "borrowed" is paid back by excess drowsiness.

How this "adenosine hit" affects you depends on how much free adenosine is in your system. For example, drinking coffee before our adenosine levels of risen - in the morning - should not result in a hit of drowsiness after coffee.

Drinking coffee later in the day, especially before after-work exercise, will theoretically result in a bigger hit of drowsiness. This leads to a circular problem, in that if you drink more coffee to stave off this drowsiness, then you will disrupt your sleep.

⇒ The debt you owe the caffeine always eventually needs to be repaid, and the only way to repay it is to sleep soundly. Try to go to sleep at night when drowsiness hits, not stave it off with caffeine.

Related: Drink This Many Cups Of Coffee Daily For Better Health

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03 The Secret to a Better Workout Is Probably Already in Your Kitchen

Now that you know caffeine blocks adenosine, making us feel more energetic and more focused, you won't be surprised to hear that many coaches agree that coffee before a game or working out can improve performance.

Specifically, one 2020 analysis of multiple studies found that rowers improved their time on a 2,000-meter row by about four seconds when using caffeine.

So what exactly is the caffeine performance edge - the coffee boost?

⇒ Despite all the research, no one actually knows how (or if) caffeine boosts athletic performance.

Some say that it is a placebo effect, that athletes who are told to consume caffeine to boost their performance respond in accordance with that belief.

In other studies, experts do see improvements in performance over placebos, but not in measures like oxygen consumption, heart rate or how hard the workouts felt.

It turns out that caffeine helps mobilise calcium ions in a way that allows muscles to produce slightly more power.

That's all we know. Except, from observation, caffeine improves less intense, longer aerobic efforts, e.g. rowing, more than intense anaerobic efforts, e.g. weight lifting or sprinting.

What this means for you: It boils down to this - if you believe that coffee will help you exercise better, then it will.

However, to all except elite athletes any performance benefits are negligible and irrelevant. Improving by 4 seconds over 2,000m rowing is an order of magnitude less time gain than you lose by glancing at your phone, the person next to you, or the TV set at the gym.

The only "better workout" you will get is as a result of being more focused, and feeling more energetic, as described in Item #2 above.

This is worthwhile, as long as the caffeine doesn't interfere with your sleep. The effects of poor sleep will vastly outweigh the "benefits" of caffeine for your workout.

⇒ The benefit of caffeine might be more about going to the gym than performing well there!

Related: The Surprising Benefits of Black Tea Daily


04 Best Three Stretches for Knee Pain

Our exercise of the week is... stretching your knees. My bout with my Baker Cyst caused me to check out how to relieve the pressure of excess fluid in the knee.

I've decided that better stretching will help. When I asked one of my Artificial Intelligence tools to check my decision, it was not encouraging, quote:

"Knee stretches alone are not likely to reduce pressure from excess synovial fluid in the knee joint. It is possible that stretching could potentially provide some relief, but the evidence is lacking."

I don’t agree with that advice because:

  1. Strength exercises (for knee stability) without stretching can exacerbate inflammation by reducing flexibility, and mobility and leading to poorer joint alignment because of muscle and tendon tightness.
  2. Stretching not only promotes better joint movement but also improves circulation in the surrounding joint tissues, and helps prevent the buildup of lactic acid.

What this means for you: A Baker Cyst occurs because excess synovial fluid in the knee joint cannot be absorbed quickly enough back into the bloodstream. By promoting circulation and proper joint alignment, stretching has the potential to achieve two important outcomes:

  1. Reduce the root cause of inflammation by improving knee mechanics and knee health.
  2. Reduce the volume of excess synovial fluid by promoting better circulation.

Therefore, IMHO, stretching can benefit people with arthritis or other conditions that cause excess synovial fluid. Of course, you should stretch cautiously, as too much stretching can cause further irritation and pain.

Here are three easy knee stretches that you can do daily, in the ad-breaks on TV:

  1. Hamstring stretch (leg out straight on the floor and bend into it).
  2. Calf stretch (using a belt to wrap around your toes and pull gently back).
  3. Quad stretch (on the floor, rolled over, using a belt to pull your leg up).

Please watch this clear, well-explained 3-minute video. Your knees will thank you.

Thanks for reading!

Related: How To Find Purpose In Your life Without Feeling Like You Are Endlessly Chasing Your Tail

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>> My Latest Blog Post: How Many Pistachios Should I Eat For Sleep and When?

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Resources for you:

How To Go From On-knee to Full Pushups, and Reap The Benefits

The Exact Slow Pace You Must Run and Cycle To Max Fat-Burning

As You Age Pistachios Can Help You Sleep Better

Vitamin D Is Free Yet We Don’t Get Enough And Our Health Is Suffering

How To Keep Your Weight Off With Daily Walks — 5 Fun Level-ups That Everyone Can Do

Walking Backwards Benefits So Much More Than Your Knees

Skipping Breakfast May Make You More Likely To Develop Diabetes - Research

​​Measuring Your Waist Will Tell You If You Are On Your Way To Diabetes

How To Sleep Better And Recover Like Elite Soccer Players​​

​​Forget Beetroot Juice, Eat More Vegetables For Nitrate Potency And Longer Life

Holy Mackerel! Researchers Confirm Walnuts Help Your Muscles Stay Stronger Helping Live Longer

Dizziness And Cataracts - Is There A Link?

How To Get The Health Benefits Of Black Tea - Even If You Don't Like Drinking It

How To Walk Better (And Undo The Damage Of Treadmills)

Brain Health Is Boosted By Eating Less, Often — Here’s How To Start

Are You Ab-Wheel Rolling To Back Pain? I Was — Not Now

Rebuilding Your Fast-twitch Muscles Doesn’t Require Fast Movements. Rebuild Your Balance in 2 Minutes Daily

I Started Trail Running At 70. Besides Being Bitten By A Dog I Love It

​​Why Walnuts Lower Heart Disease and Help You Sleep Better

​​​How Avoiding A High Viral Load Can Save Your Life - Coronavirus

Shining Light On Infrared Therapy - It Helped Unlock My Shoulder

The Surprising Way Hip Flexors Pull You Down Into An Elderly Stoop And ​Shuffle, And How To Avoid It

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Four Most Valuable [4MV] Weekly Tips For Living Longer Better | Newsletter

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