When you open your eyes in the morning, do you think of the acidity of fresh coffee to give you the energy boost you need, or do you prefer a more subtle touch with a hot tea? Experts must be clear about which is better, right?
Well, it turns out that there is a fierce controversy among experts and there is no clear answer.
“It really depends on each person,” admits Tamar Samuels, dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health . According to her, the preferences of each one influence the reaction of the body and its interaction with the taste buds.
The thing to keep in mind is that the potential advantages and disadvantages of drinking tea or coffee derive directly from its caffeine, which is the most widespread psychoactive drug in society . According to Samuels, the effects of caffeine are noticeable after 45 minutes and can last between 3 and 10 hours, a range that also depends on the person.
This is what caffeine does to your body in the morning
Coffee and tea have caffeine, but in different amounts.
A 250ml cup of black coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine, while the same amount of black tea has about 50 milligrams and a cup of green tea has about 30 milligrams. Clearly, the effects of caffeine are most noticeable with coffee.
Most of the benefits of caffeine actually depend on the genetic makeup of the person taking it.
“Caffeine is metabolized in the liver, but some people have genetic mutations that cause them to metabolize caffeine faster or slower,” says Samuels.
Responsible for metabolizing caffeine is a liver enzyme encoded by the CYP1A2 gene. About half of the world’s population has a variant of this gene that slows down the metabolism of caffeine.
“The best way to know your tolerance to caffeine is to control the effects it causes you with the help of a nutritionist,” he says. As a general rule of thumb, if you feel very nervous, have trouble sleeping, and your heart races from caffeine, try to drink less next time.
Stress also influences the effects of caffeine, as both cause an increase in cortisol levels , which negatively affects the body in the long term.
“People with chronic stress don’t get along with caffeine,” says Samuels, who lists insomnia, digestive problems, anxiety and high blood pressure as side effects. However, it is important to note that you would have to drink a lot of caffeine so that , by itself, it increases your cortisol levels to a counterproductive level, while in moderate doses it can give you an energy boost without compromising your health.
But the human body already has naturally high levels of cortisol in the morning.
“The problem with having caffeine in the morning is that it increases your natural cortisol levels even more and can cause anxiety and nervousness,” says Samuels. A good way to control this adverse effect is to accompany the caffeine with some food .
Caffeine also contains methylxanthines, stimulants used by doctors to fight respiratory diseases. Methylxanthines, meanwhile, are associated with higher levels of sexual arousal and arousal , according to Dr. Kimberly Langdon of the Medzino company .
Generally speaking, caffeine affects the central nervous system in many ways. On the one hand, it increases brain energy, although it also reduces blood flow in the brain, which can cause blood pressure drops. And, on the other hand, it activates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and the dopamine production center, which causes an increased level of vigilance.
The benefits of coffee
Some research has found that coffee can be beneficial for people with certain health problems , such as type 2 diabetes or other heart problems, and it can boost metabolism. Other studies, on the other hand, indicate that coffee does not have any effect on health.
Another benefit of coffee lies in its high levels of antioxidants. A cup of coffee contains more antioxidants than the same amount of tea (between 200 and 550 milligrams, compared to 150 to 400 milligrams for green or black tea).
Coffee also surpasses tea in its amount of polyphenols , which are micronutrients that improve digestion, help prevent neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, and even aid in weight control. Although tea also has polyphenols, coffee has more.
The benefits of tea
The effects of tea are similar to those of coffee, but to a lesser degree, as it has less caffeine and fewer polyphenols. For those looking for the effect of caffeine, that is a big drawback, but for those who do not want to overdo it, it becomes an advantage. The benefits of tea vary greatly depending on the type , since it is not the same to drink black tea, green tea or white tea.
But there are some ways that tea is superior: Unlike coffee, it is very easy to find a tea that is more specifically suited to a specific goal.
“Pregnant women with nausea are advised to drink ginger tea. Turmeric tea helps control inflammation and green tea helps alleviate many of the most common ailments in society, ”exemplifies Samuels.
“The benefits are more varied because there are many types of tea, whereas coffees are made from a single plant,” explains Samuels.
Langdon also mentions the flexibility tea allows when it comes to controlling the amount of caffeine. For example, if you want to squeeze out the most caffeine, leave the bag in the hot water longer.
So, coffee or tea?
Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately), there is no single correct answer. As Samuels points out, it depends on each one.
“I have some clients in New York who are often very stressed about their work, so I recommend the tea, but I also have other clients who can have a coffee just before going to bed and sleep without problems,” says Samuels.
So, in the end, it’s up to you. It’s about knowing your body, knowing if a herbal tea or coffee suits you better, and giving it what it needs.