Your Genetics on Coffee-How the Genes You Have Affect that Cup of Joe!

This is first part in a series on nutrigenomics—how food affects are genes (and how genes affect how we assimilate what we eat).

COFFEE! OMG soooooo many of us love it so much! We feel like our day wouldn’t be complete without it! Others among us never touch the stuff.

Many of you may know that when you participate in my 28 Day Total Food Transformation that I ask that you get off coffee for the duration of the program. When people find this out there is a huge collective GROAN! For the most part, people have taken on that challenge. And of those people, the vast majority experience huge benefits when they take their bodies off the caffeine cycle including better sleep, more even energy throughout the day, improved weight loss (I know this is true for me) and much more…including that “AH HA” that THEY CAN DO IT! It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.

Setting the controversy around coffee aside (we will deal with that in another email) I want to tell you about really cool research that has discovered specific genes that affect how you experience caffeinated coffee!

My work is based entirely around the concept ofBIOINDIVIDUALITY. This means that all of our bodies are unique and what works for one may not work for others. I help people figure out what their specific and unique body needs to thrive.

Nutrigenomics is the scientific study of how what we eat and drink (nutrition) affects our genes. It’s trying to discover how different people’s genetic make-up is affected by what they eat.

Scientists at Harvard conducted the largest genome-wide association study on coffee drinking to date (Chasman and Cornelis et al 2015) have been looking into how an individual’s genetic make-up influences their response to coffee. So far there have been EIGHT GENES discovered that relate to coffee consumption.


They discovered two genes that are involved with the metabolization of caffeine, POR and ABCG2. Because these genes are encoded with proteins involved with metabolizing caffeine, people with these genes tend to break down (metabolize) caffeine faster and therefore tend to be able to drink more coffee easily. They basically metabolize the caffeine faster and better than those without these genes!

Caffeine is actually primarily metabolized in our liver (which is a major detox organ—important to know!). In the liver is an enzyme that does a lot of the work of breaking this down called cytochrome P450, or CYP1A2. This enzyme has a variant (CYP1A2*1A) that metabolized caffeine FAST! So all of this is connected and it explains why some among us can drink a cup of coffee and then go to bed, no problem! (Conversely, CYP1A2*1F is a slow metabolizer of caffeine so if you find you need to cut consumption early in the day to ensure a good night of sleep, you may be carrying this variant!).


Along the same lines, the scientists confirmed that two genes, AHR and CYP1A2 (and yes, I know that above I refer to CYP1A2 as an enzyme—and it is…from DNA, to RNA, to protein…the enzyme is the protein expression of gene! Yeah, I know…just trust me) that relate to our tolerance and how well we process the caffeine in coffee.

Because AHR can turn on CYP1A2, people with this combination of gene variant can metabolize caffeine faster and therefore easily tolerate more cups of coffee during the day!



Ah, the joy of coffee! There may be a reason that coffee makes you happy! The scientists are looking at two regions of our DNA near genes BDNF and SLC6A4 to see if there’s a connection…and it’s looking like there is!

BDNF is responsible for serotonin and dopamine (pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters). These two variants seem to reinforce the positive affects of coffee’s molecular properties—and put you into a good mood!

I think about these genes a lot because there are many times when a cup of coffee really seems to make me HAPPY!


Connected to our happy feelings that come from drinking coffee are two genes related to pleasure or “getting a kick” from drinking coffee. It’s a subtle difference and scientists are still looking to understand the connection fully. Two variants found near genes GCKR and MLXIPL are assumed to be associated with a “psychostimulant effect” of coffee drinking! People with these genes tend to drink more coffee because of the associated stimulating effect they receive from it!

So that’s your mini-overview of genetics and coffee drinking!

What’s the take-away?

All of us are individuals and have a unique genetic make-up.Depending on that genetic make-up, we will experience food and drink in a very unique way—OUR PERSONAL WAY.

I really love this because sometimes we can feel a little crazy or annoyed that we seem to have such different bodies and different tastes and reactions to food and drink than our friends and family. There’s a reason for it and science is just beginning to unravel it all!

You don’t need to get your genome tested to figure it all out—you just need to PAY ATTENTION. You KNOW when food messes with you and you KNOW when food makes you feel good! TRUST THAT. There’s a reason for it!

That is also what my 28 Day Total Food Transformation does for you. It helps you figure it out. And when you do, all sorts of symptoms melt away. I’ve seen it happen time and time again and seriously, it can feel MIRACULOUS. I invite you to check out the program. It’s really powerful and I know it will help you feel better than you’ve ever imagined.



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