Obviously, it”™s not necessary to know how caffeine works to be able to use it. It can be helpful in boosting pain relief from other pain-relievers or by itself. It”™s especially good for muscle pain relief — great news if you work out hard.

Scientists speculate that caffeine”™s pain-relieving power comes from 3 mechanisms:

- It blocks release of adenosine.
Adenosine is a brain chemical that carries pain signals to the brain.

- It activates adrenalin pathways in the brain.
Those pathways include the body”™s own pain-killing mechanism.

- It stimulates the central nervous system in a way that changes the processing of pain signals.

Of the 3, I like the first one best. The second 2 don”™t actually explain clearly (at least to me), but the first does. Here”™s why.

Adenosine prevents the release of 2 brain chemicals — norepinephrine and dopamine — presumably so the amounts available at a given time are kept within control.

When we consume caffeine, the caffeine blocks adenosine. It occupies the adenosine receptors and prevents adenosine from “getting in.” As a result, dopamine and norepinephrine are released in larger amounts. That”™s why coffee makes us feel alert.

But norepinephrine also has analgesic power, so it offers a bonus — it wakes us up and helps to relieve pain.

Norepinephrine is made when we eat protein foods: fish, eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, shrimp, crab, yogurt (with 18-22 g of protein per serving). For non-animal protein, use high-quality vegan protein powders from peas, hemp and other vegetable sources. (Kale, for example, doesn”™t have enough.)

The take-away? Be sure to eat protein foods regularly, so your norepinephrine stores are adequate when you need to release them by consuming caffeine.

For additional tips like these — or for more serious health issues — visit www.FoodAddictionSolutions.com/Coaching and request your free Eating Empowerment Consult. Find out how easy it can be to get your nutrition and your health back on track.

Joan Kent

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