Is caffeine sensitivity like Quidditch ability? While reading Science Meets Food’s article, “Does Caffeine Work on You” it dawned on me how well someone handles their caffeine is like how well someone plays Quidditch.
Harry Potter is the youngest seeker in a century. Quidditch is dangerous for everyone but if you’re too young, it’s too hard to be successful. Same thing with caffeine. It’s dangerous for everyone (Bludger to the head = 1 gram of pure caffeine). But if you’re too young, it’s too hard for your body to metabolize the caffeine effectively, meaning more side effects (headache, nausea, jitters, irritability).
[We talked about caffeine and kids here on GreenEyedGuide]
Hermione points out that Harry will be good at Quidditch because it’s in his blood. His dad was good at Quidditch, ergo, Harry has good Quidditch genes. At least 3 genes make you good at handling caffeine: one is for the liver enzyme that metabolizes caffeine; one gene is an on/off switch for that liver enzyme gene, and one is for the adenosine receptors caffeine snuggles into to keep you awake.
[if you find genetics interesting, there’s much more detail in this article on caffeine sensitivity by Caffeine Informer]
one more thing…
Okay, but how come Ron sucks at Quidditch? Ginny, Fred, and George all seem to have good Quidditch genes, how come Ron is such a mental wreck when he plays? Because SENSITIVITY is different than TOLERANCE.
Tolerance is acquired over time, while caffeine sensitivity is more hard-wired. Ron’s tolerance for the attention and pressure that comes with playing Quidditch conflicts with his Quidditch ability. As Ron gets more tolerant of this attention and pressure, he’s only limited by his Quidditch ability. As we build a tolerance for caffeine, we’re then only limited by our caffeine sensitivity. But watch out for those over-caffeinated drinks and bludgers!
Danielle Robertson Rath is a food scientist, consultant, speaker, and the founder of GreenEyedGuide.com. Her book “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks – How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely” is widely considered the ultimate resource for caffeine drinkers everywhere. Danielle aka “GreenEyedGuide” started studying energy drinks while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and master’s degree in food science. She has been fascinated by caffeinated beverages and their ingredients ever since.
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