Even coffee haters respond to the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning: dark, and rich, with just the right note of bitterness to compliment the feeling of leaving a nice, comfy bed. It’s one of the pleasures that makes it worth getting up in the morning. Now some Japanese researchers seem to think we don’t even need to drink the stuff. Smelling it may be enough. Scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan deprived rats of sleep for a day.
When they examined their brains they found reduced levels of mRNA – messenger molecules that indicate when a gene is being expressed – for 11 genes important to brain function. When the rats were exposed to the aroma of coffee, the mRNA for nine of the genes was restored to near normal levels, and pushed to above normal levels for two – GIR, involved in neuro-endocrine control, and NFGR, thought to control oxidative stress.
The study doesn’t address whether the caffeine that we crave from our coffee is what’s doing the stimulating, or whether there are other chemicals that are doing the job. Of course, even the scent of coffee isn’t as good as taking a nap to fix tiredness, but that’s not going to stop me from drinking the stuff.
Especially as we get more and more confirmation that it’s good for our hearts. Another study, this one from the Autonomous University of Madrid, says we should do far more than sniff our delicious black nectar, we should damn near guzzle it. These scientists tracked 129,000 people over 20 years. They found that men who drank seven or more cups a day reduced their possibility of death from from heart disease by 34%, while women who drink five cups a day reduce it by 44% .
The scientists are characteristically cautious. They say we should maybe get some additional experimental results before we start mainlining coffee, and they’re probably right. But at least we can abandon this sniffing business, yeah? At least now I know why tea drinkers hover around my french press in the morning, like moths at the porch light.
P.S. For younger readers who don’t get the title joke, here’s the reference.