The Beginner’s Guide to Russian Nesting Dolls

Russian Nesting dolls are a wooden painted doll with a symbol of Russia. It has became the coolest doll figures in Russia. There is no consensus on the history of the creation of this chubby and plump cheerful girl. No records, sketches or images of this doll have been saved anywhere. However, the changing face of Nesting dolls can be observed especially when Russia’s politics is concerned.

The appearance of the Nesting dolls

The time of creation of the Nesting doll is considered to be the 90th year of the XIX century, when the wife of the Russian artist Anatoly IvanovichMamontov, who works in the shop, brought a toy from Japan (from the island of Honshu). More precisely, the chiseled figure, which was the Japanese God of good luck, Fukorokoju (in Russia, the toy is known as Fukurama), but the toy was not the most common it could be divided in half, but inside it kept a similar figure, but less, which also consisted of two halves. Thus, the god Fukorokoju kept in himself the figures of the other six gods of fortune.

Check out Russian nesting doll souvenirs in affordable prices at

According to the legend, this toy was the progenitor of the nested doll. Namely, the artist drew attention to the purchase of his wife and created a sketch, and the doll itself asked to turn a hereditary turner VasilyPetrovichZvezdochkina, then he painted it. However, the first toy did not consist only of Russian beauties. It alternated images of the Russian beauty, dressed in a sundress, apron and handkerchief, with images of stately young men, and the smallest baby was a baby. But after creation, you had to give a name to your creation,

Anatoly Ivanovich did call the doll as Nesting dolls. This name was connected with the image of the mother of a large family and came from the Russian name popular at that time, Matryona. Subsequently, this name Nesting dolls was used specifically to describe the brightly painted wooden dolls, made in such a way that one was inside the other. So a mother doll with numerous daughters’ dolls perfectly expresses the oldest symbol of human culture and is also considered a symbol of motherhood and fertility.

Then, in the Moscow estate of MamontovAbramtsevo, the production of nested dolls was arranged. The first Nesting dolls looked like a simple girl in a folk dress. Over time, the painting became more and more complicated, various ornaments, scenes from fairy tales appeared. At first, the Russian Nesting dolls was an eight-person, all the figures in it were different from each other. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, 24-seater dolls were made. Later, in 1913, NikolayBulychev made a 48-seater Nesting dolls. Now the very first Russian Nesting dolls can be found in SergievPosad in the Toy Museum.

This production was not an easy task, since the manual manufacture of a doll on a lathe requires high qualification and ability to work with a limited set of tools. The smallest figures were made first. Then the next doll was carved on it, and so on. In the manufacture of forms of nesting dolls no measurements were taken. The master had to rely only on his skill and intuition.

Even wrote an article about the popularity of Russian nesting dolls.

The process of creating dolls

For the manufacture of nesting dolls craftsmen traditionally choose a tree of soft breeds. Linden and alder are perfect. Birch is much less commonly used. Such wood as oak or beech is categorically not suitable for this event, since they have an increased density, and oak, moreover, is also characterized by porosity. Selected trees are cut down, as a rule, in early spring. After that, the bark is removed from the logs, but not cleaned, as it is necessary in order to protect the wood from cracking during drying.

To begin processing wood should be when it is already dry enough, but it is not too dried. If the tree is too dry, it should be placed in a place with a standard level of humidity. The blanks are currently made, as a rule, by hand, however some workshops use special technical equipment for this. Each blank passes at least ten different operations before it is used to create the nested doll.

Finally, after long-term drying, the craftsmen get down to business: the creation of the Nesting dolls always begins with the smallest doll, which is not separable. Next, proceed to the manufacture of the next figure, which will fit the smallest Russian doll. The work piece is made the necessary dimensions, after which it is cut into two even parts. After that, they are made hollow, that is, all excess wood is removed from the inside.

After completing the manufacture of blanks, they are covered with protective varnish. Next, the master proceeds to coloring. The technology of painting is the use of oil paints, gouaches, watercolors. Gouache is in the greatest demand for many years.

Each master painted the dolls in his own way, inventing his own styles, each of which got its popularity. The most famous of these styles was the style of SergievPosad, where in the 1900s, the entire production of the Nesting dolls was moved.

Four main styles of painting Russian nesting dolls

Until the end of the 90s of the 19th century, nesting dolls were made in the Moscow workshop, and after it was closed, the production moved to the training and demonstration workshops of SergievPosad near Moscow. In fact, SergievPosad became the place where the first industrial design of the Russian nesting doll was made, where it was born and for the first time “saw” the light.

On the huge market square of the city near the monastery there was a market. The square was always full of people, and it is not surprising that the first dolls depicted just such a colorful life. Among the first images there are young girls dressed in bright sundresses, women Old Believers in conservative clothes, brides and grooms, shepherds with pipe, old men with lush beards. In the early period of development of technology in Nesting dolls appeared and male images, too.

Some dolls were devoted to historical themes and portrayed boyars with their wives, Russian noblemen of the 17th century, as well as legendary Russian heroes. Some nesting dolls made in Moscow represent the powerful and influential families in that area. Sometimes nesting dolls were dedicated to book characters. For example, in 1909, by the centenary of Gogol, SergievPosad produced a series of dolls based on the works of Gogol: TarasBulba, Plyushkin, and Governor. In 1912, to the centenary of the Patriotic War against Napoleon, Nesting dolls depicted Kutuzov and some other commanders. Some dolls borrowed fabulous scenes, often themes were taken from popular heroic tales. All these can be found from a single island of nesting dolls.

Read More

Why Silver Bracelets Are The Latest Hit For Men This Year

If someone asks you what jewelry the man prefers, feel free to answer that this is a bracelet. And silver bracelets for men are most popular. It is appropriate in a formal business environment, and in everyday manner. And the demand for these strict silver men’s jewelry is growing rapidly. No matter how old a man is, what official status he would not have, it is best to buy a men’s silver bracelet. He will certainly be pleased with such a gift from his beloved woman. The main thing is not to make a wrong choice and get a really worthwhile thing.

More silver bracelets in cool variants and affordable prices are available at BraceletWorld.

Nuances when choosing a bracelet:

Laconic silver bracelets for men will really be a joy if you take into account certain nuances when choosing and buying them.

The collection of your man: For the tall and stately, the best option would be a silver bracelet with luxurious weaving. On the wrist, it looks quite appropriate. For a larger man fit a solid and massive bracelet.

Types of silver bracelets: There are a very large number of their varieties but among them stand out are especially those that are made of dark metal and if the decoration with large massive links, which have large elements, dark silver that are necessary. If you buy a men’s silver bracelet, just as massive, but of bright shiny silver, it will not catch the eye and will look simple and ordinary, even if it is expensive. But this is the recommended bracelet for travelling, because of its sturdiness and won’t easily come off.

Weave Men lead, as a rule, an active life. And the bracelet on his hand should be durable, and it means that its weaving should be practical, stylish and modern. When choosing, give preference to wide strong links, and it is better if the weaving is double. By the way, it is the most popular bracelet gift for men.

Castle: It requires special strength. It should not open with the most active movement otherwise, quickly lost and if he has a complicated clasp, your man will soon abandon him and will not wear and of course, the size of the bracelet. Before you buy a gift, try to figure out the size of your wrist.

There is one more recommendation that you should take care of in advance. When choosing a gift among silver bracelets for men, make an individual engraving. It can be a memorable date, a name or a picture, all in your imagination. The gift will be truly personal, personalized and unforgettable. Men tend to wear jewelry no less than the fair sex. Popular jewelry is considered men’s silver bracelets, which emphasize the character of the owner and complete the image. Regardless of the model chosen, metal products of this color are combined with casual clothing and look harmonious.

An article about 10 reasons your jewelry looks cheap was posted by Cosmopolitan as well.

Popular models

Earlier, a silver bracelet existed only with the watch. At the same time interlacing links did not differ in diversity. It was hard to impress or stand out from the crowd with such a common accessory. Now fashion trends have changed, and the decoration has become independent. At the same time, it is possible to wear men’s jewelry made of silver at the same time as a wrist watch.

The following options are currently relevant:

  • Thin chains with weaving by the type of infinity complemented by a solid plate of the same metal 925 samples. A plus is the availability of space for a memorable engraving. This bracelet will be a suitable option for a present to his son at the age of majority or to a young man as a sign of a memorable event.
  • Models with weaving in one row by type anchor or Bismarck. Instead of several links, some silver figure is woven around. It is decorated with cubic zirconium, turquoise, hematite or sapphires. Modern men on a par with women allow themselves jewelry with stones, which is considered fashionable and stylish.
  • Samples with wide chains of large links are now becoming less popular, although they still look spectacular on the wrist.
  • Silver bracelets with links resembling a chain of a motorcycle, received the original name Harley Davidson. They have different widths and are suitable for both beginners and experienced lovers of fast driving.
  • Religious symbolism is traced in massive and ordinary men’s jewelry from different manufacturers. The inscription “Save and Save”, images of crosses or crucifixes on the links themselves, made in the form of small plates, runes and Celtic symbols are spread. Such products can serve as a talisman. But it is better that the owner be aware of the interpretation of the signs or make a bracelet to order.

Hand jewelry with a round or square cross section and wolf tail, python, scarab and other weaving patterns remain popular in the 2017-2018 seasons.

How to choose a bracelet on hand

In order to pamper these men with a worthy accessory, you can present it as a birthday gift or other a memorable date. However, you should keep in mind that you need to give a bracelet that coordinates his outfit. Read further to know more.

The choice of chains on hand

The color of the product is different. It all depends on the sample. Online stores usually provide a choice of a bracelet made of heavy, first-class. This alloy is also called Sterling Silver or Sterling Silver. The lower the sample, the more yellow the metal will be. He is also influenced by additives from gold or platinum.

The cost of a bracelet directly depends on the quality of raw materials for its manufacture, the complexity of weaving and weight. The price varies from 600 to several thousand rubles per gram. Usually in catalogs for the convenience of customers, the total amount is set taking into account all the features of the product.

Making a male precious metal accessory is also important. When creating bracelets made in Italy and Russia, designers take into account current trends in cinema, sports and various hobbies of representatives of the stronger sex. In catalogs of suppliers such as Sunlight, there are branded models with a clasp in the shape of a boxing glove, two beer steins, a skull, dragon or serpent head rushing towards each other the photo shows the most spectacular options.

Be aware though that if you are giving this kind of bracelet to men who are often engaged in fights, someone may get hurt. What can possibly happen is that the adverse fighter gets squished like squishies. We don’t want that to happen.

Bracelet with stones

Its sapphires and inserts from other minerals influence how much a silver bracelet costs. They are found in a minimum amount on individual links. But among youth ornaments, the popularity of chains with decorative figures, studded with colored stones is growing. It is worth focusing on individual preferences.

The variety of silver bracelets for men is very large, you really need to research if you want to give bracelet as gift to friends. If there is a difficulty in choosing, you can always stay on the chain of medium diameter with a small metal plate for engraving. Depending on the nature of the message, you should order the application of a commemorative inscription on the inside or outside. Modern technology allows you to perform work on the metal within 15 minutes.

Read More

Kigurumis Will Make Your Cold Winter Sizzling Hot

How fast happens? Not so long ago, the sun was still there to keep us warm. And now winter is coming. The temperature has fallen sharply since a few days already. The nights are getting cooler. It is high time to switch to cocooning mode through the use of onesies. Onesies come in a variety of designs, from cute onesies to scary nightmarish onesies.

And for that, you need comfortable pajamas, but that is all the same elegant. Go, we forget this time this old pajama size XXL straight out of the closet. For this season, fashion is in Kigurumi. How to choose your first fashionable Kigurumi?

Grab your own perfect onesies in the coolest design of your choice available at

Kigurumi pajamas: What is it?

Have you ever thought about the comfort that can be provided by a toggle to avoid getting cold during the winter? Well, that’s good. The Kigurumi pajamas can offer you the same comfort, but with a lot of styles. Drawn from the word Kigu meaning “animal costume” in Japanese, the Kigurumi pajama is a kind of adult toss in the form of animals or cartoon characters. Long worn by Japanese teens as streetwear outfit, this ultra fashion costume straight from the land of the rising sun “Japan,” tends to develop in Europe, and particularly in France. It protects the whole body from cold, from head to toe.

Kigurumi pajamas: What characterizes this outfit?

As mentioned above, it’s its shape that makes this type of pajamas unique. All animals, as well as various cartoon characters from the Kigu range, are beautifully represented. There is something for all tastes and styles.

Moreover, its shape perfectly molds the body, which makes it incredibly comfortable to wear. Whether it is merely to spend a good night’s sleep in winter or to make a splash in the costume balls, the effect is guaranteed. In fact, many magazines recommend to have onesies in closets during winter. You will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of models that offers you these pajamas. Also, it comes in all sizes, from kids onesie costume model, to adult onesie model.

Kigurumi pajamas: The different types of models

There are two categories of pajama kigurumi models:

The kigurumi pajamas animal version:

 The Kigurumi animal version pajamas are characterized by its style, color, and shape reminiscent of the body of an animal. Besides the rabbit, the dolphin, the whale. You can also find animal characters from manga, such as Pikachu, panda bear, and many others.

There is actually a DIY kigurumi onesies article by Huffington Post.

The unicorn version kigurumi pajamas:

This is a standard model that is characterized by it’s tail, horn or its often hot color like yellow, orange. This model is perfect for those who do not like the animal version.

Are you dreaming every night of becoming a unicorn to walk on the rainbow of our enchanted planet? Well, we have found exactly what you need. Here are the pajamas that will allow you to change into a beautiful wild unicorn instantly.

Once inside all your worries will disappear, you will find yourself project in a beautiful and magical world. Will you adopt the daily hardships of a unicorn, i.e., eat, drink, and sleep. It’s up to you to see if you’re ready to take the first step.

We will present here the various kigurumiunicorn, but also other animals such as panda, rabbit, lemur, or Pokémon such as Pikachu. We have made a selection of the most sold pajamas of the year so that you can find a second skin not too expensive for your taste.

Note: To make your search easier, we took the initiative to choose the Amazon platform to buy Kigurumi. Indeed Amazon often offers promotional offers but also free delivery, a little more non-negligible. Moreover, the customer report is impeccable, if an article does not suityou. it is returnable in 30 days.

Kigurumi Unicorn Pajama Selection

The brand offers a multitude of disguises in the shape of animals. You will find pandas, giraffes, tigers, leopards, etc. It offers models ranging from 150 to 185 cm. It will then measure you. The material is very nice, and the costume is not stuffy as the fabric is very light.

The brand Blister is currently the brand that will offer you the most choices possible, with these 43 animals you will find your happiness. The costumes are made of velvet, which offers exceptional softness. Moreover, you will quietly keep the winter thanks to the very fluffy material. The brand provides the 4 standard sizes. You will find Kigurumi from 148 to 188 cm.

Unicorn pajamas Lath PIN

Lath pin is currently the brand that makes the best unicorns on the market. The quality of finishes is irreproachable besides the brand will offer you here only unicorns. You will have the choice between 11 different unicorn models to walk the clouds and frolic on the rainbows.

Unicorn Pajama Moolyfox

If you are looking for an animal-shaped disguise, the brand Moolyfox will propose you 31 different evening costumes. You will then be able to put yourself in the shoes of your animal wearing force. The material is very light which offers a good feeling on the skin, plus the ridiculous weight will not bother you in your movements. The brand offers size large and small so for people over 1.90 meters, it will be complicated. The slippers are not delivered, attention purchase and more.

Kigurumi Pikachu

Brands thought about the Pokémon fan by offering you the 15 funny animals and known in cartoons. You can then find Pikachu or Tiger and Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh. You will also be able to transform completely thanks to the slippers in the form of paws of animals proposed by the mark.

Unicorn Pajama Keral

This little light blue unicorn will keep very hot thanks to the 100% Velvet material.Keral also offers 32 other models of disguise other than this unicorn, plus you will also be able to order velvet slippers that are also very hot. The brand provides like all the different four conventional sizes and even a multitude of others. It will be easier to find a shoe with Keral.

Read More

The Best Party Theme Ever! Celebrate With a Onesie Pajama Party

One thing we all can agree on is that we need more excuses to wear our onesies to parties. They are awesome, cute, fluffy, and incredibly comfortable. So, why not combine your love of onesies with the ever-popular trend of throwing pajama parties? After all, everybody loves a good pajama party, and with your onesie, you will be the star of the show. You can even brag to your friends by taking pics with your onesies on.


Besides, throwing a onesie party is something that big clubs are doing anyhow. In fact, they are spreading like wildfire. One of the recent parties in the New York City Vulture Arts festival was a pajama party. For the party, the stars of the comedy TV show Playing House came in their pajamas. Those who were participating in the festival had the chance to enjoy their early brunch in their favorite onesies. And don’t think for a second that most people that came didn’t use that opportunity to rock their onesie outfits. Having been interviewed, these people recommended everyone to buy onesies essential for winter.


However, New York is not the only city to call the onesie lovers out for a party. In fact, Philadelphia soon had one of its own. Namely, Kevin Van Jones, the manager of a San Diego hostel, organized a bar crawl in Philly, where all participants had to wear their onesies. Of course, that is not all. Similar events took place around the States. Cities like Denver, Portland, and of course, San Francisco, had their own onesie bar crawls.


And that is not all we can expect from Kevin Van Jones. He says he plans to organize something bigger – a onesie convention where you can hang out with other onesie fans. There will finally be a convention where you can be anything. You can wear any onesie you want, and nobody will judge you, even in the slightest. Not that you should care about the haters.


However, Kevin is not the only person organizing onesie parties. The Living Computers museum in Seattle threw a onesie pajama party. The name of the party was “Cats of the Internet” party. The party was a part of their ongoing process of teaching children about informational technologies. They usually do it through various exhibits that show the kids the latest technology. They teach about 3D printing, hacking, and of course, the culture of the netizens. If you ever get an invitation to one of their parties, make sure you sport your coolest cat onesie there.


Of course, private parties celebrities throw aren’t far behind in popularity. Lauren Alaina, one of the best country singers in the world, had a lot of fun at a party in Nashville. While other stars go out and treat themselves to a expensive perfumes or jewelry, Lauren went with something else entirely. She got herself a goat onesie.


So, in the end, if you love your onesies, don’t worry about sharing your love with the world. In fact, celebrate it. Throw a onesie party and call all of your friends over. And, if they don’t have a onesie of their own, you can lend some of your extra onesies to them. After all, they are a one-size-fits-all type of clothing. Also, you can organize a small family get together and just wear your onesie there. In organizing, it would be better that you bring many toys for kids, bringing squishies to dayouts will distract the kids while adults are having fun.  If you are not that keen on throwing parties yourself, you can go to one of the major events to meet new people that share your passions. However, if you are not the sociable kinds of person, you can still use your onesie while doing fitness routines.

Read More

The People’s Guide to a Brilliant Coffee Date

Ah, the coffee date, the classic casual first date. Unlike its classic contemporaries (movies, candlelit dinner, I’m looking at you) coffee dates don’t have to suck. Coffee outings are great, because they allow two people to meet in a casual, no frills setting and focus on what’s important: getting to know each other. If either party isn’t feeling the vibe, it’s easy to bow out. What’s not to love?

Of course, that all sounds great, but many of us have been on our fair share bad coffee dates. So what gives? Well, like most things that have to do with romance, even something as simple as sharing a caffeinated beverage can get complicated. Enter the People’s Guide to a Brilliant Coffee Date. Get ready to learn all you need to know about planning the perfect coffee house excursion for you and your future love to get acquainted.

1. Pick the destination.
When picking the perfect place to get coffee, the most important qualities to consider are the location, the spatial dynamics, and the vibe. It’s not a perfect equation, but you’ll want to weigh these against what you know about your date to pick the best coffee shop.

Location is pretty simple. Pick a place that’s relatively easy for both of you to get to. If you don’t mind traveling, pick one closer to them. Make it as easy as possible for them to get to the date.

The vibe of the coffee shop will telegraph your taste preferences. Do you like mom and pop homestyle cafes or do you prefer artisanal fresh roast pour over options? Also, try to pick somewhere upbeat. The fewer people working on laptops the better. The vibe isn’t a make or break, but it may reveal telling differences or similarities between you.

Probably the most important factor to consider in your selection is the coffee shop’s spatial dynamic. Since your goal is to get to know your date, pick a place where you can talk freely. The ideal place would have well spaced tables and customers that wouldn’t mind an animated first date conversation. Private patios and corner seating are a plus.

No need to worry about how the coffee tastes.

2. Always reconfirm the date.
As a good rule of thumb, always confirm the meeting time on the day of. People flake or ghost—it’s nothing personal. Save yourself the trouble of getting stood up. When they give you the confirmation text that they’ll be there, you’re good to go. In regards to getting stood up, if the person is running late, I give 20 minutes for them to show up or text to say they’re running late. If I haven’t heard from them in that time period, I’ll head out (or stay if I’m in the mood to enjoy a book).

3. Show up early.
While you shouldn’t need a reason to show up early, I’ll give you a few. First, if you show up early, you’ll have the best chance to get a good spot to sit. You don’t want to have to stand in a busy coffee shop on your first date.

Second, if you’re someone who gets bad first date nerves, this will give you some time to calm down. Warm up your conversational muscles by chatting with the baristas, then take your seat and take a few yoga breaths. Caffeine has been linked to anxiety, so lay off if you’re feeling jittery.

Third, you can mitigate some first date awkwardness. If you’re meeting for the first time, it’s always best to start by chatting, but waiting in line for drinks isn’t the best place for introductions. When you show up early, you can get your drink and cup of water for them, which will alleviate the pressure for them to get up and order a drink right away because you have one. This way you can get past the initial hellos (the most awkward part of the date) at the table before you get up to get them a drink.

4. Buying the drink.
This is a more hotly debated topic. On the first date, I usually offer to get their drink. I think it’s a nice gesture. If they insist on buying for themselves (or for both of us), then that’s okay, too. There’s a lot hubbub about who should pay, but ultimately you’re both adults with good intentions trying to get to know each other—you’ll figure it out.

5. Now do the date.
At last, you’ve both made it to your table beverages in hand. This is the date. Conversationally, start small. Where they’re from, what their dreams are, and what they do for fun are all good places to start. Steer clear of family and relationships. Try not to dig too deep, unless they offer up that information freely. You’re just trying to get a feeling for who they are and share in kind. These conversations will often be more about feeling than information exchange.

Next, be present. Most of us spend most hours of each day on autopilot. If you want to make a connection, you have to be mentally present to receive it. Let your guard down and put your attention at the ready. Withhold your judgements, opinions, and words that you just have to get in when they’re talking. Actually hear what they have to say. This is the best way to get to know someone.

A last note on chatting: don’t expect something hypersexualized and don’t expect to get anything out of it. Walk in open-minded. First dates can be overtly sexual, but often they’re not. Some dates may end in kisses or more, but ultimately they’re about getting to know each other.

6. Go for a walk, plan the next date, or move on.
Most coffee dates will last about an hour or two. At that point, it’s time to figure out what’s next. If you enjoy their company, you can continue the date to food or an activity or plan to pick up a different time.

If you don’t feel the chemistry, say so gently. There’s no need to tell someone you want to hang out when you don’t. Conversely, if you’re interested but they’re not, respect their decision and take your leave.

So that’s it. You’ve completed the People’s Guide to a Brilliant Coffee Date…which isn’t a guarantee of anything. It’s just a better way of doing things. The search for love is rarely quick. It may be a while till you find the one, if that’s even what you’re looking for. Dating is about sharing company and the occasional intimate moment with a stranger. If you did things right, there’s magic in that. Cosmopolitan’s tips on how to have perfect date might also help you.

Read More

All about coffee: Is it good for us? Or a disease waiting to happen?

Coffee is among the most consumed — and controversial — beverages in the world. While coffee should be treated with care and avoided altogether by those who metabolize it poorly, it also provides health benefits to many people. Read on to find out what they are – and how to drink coffee responsibly. The New Yorker also stated how great a cup of coffee is.

Coffee is the second most popular drink in the world, trailing only water and, debatably, tea.

Caffeine, a key component of coffee, is a controversial compound. With 90% of North American adults consuming caffeine daily, it is the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug – and coffee is the delivery method of choice.

Perhaps that’s why, in the fitness world, we’ve traditionally viewed coffee with some suspicion.

But is coffee really bad for us? Should we give up our beloved cuppa joe? If it’s bad, why does it feel so good?


Coffee’s origins

The coffee plant originated in East Africa — according to legend, a goat herder tried coffee cherries after he noticed his goats acting much more energetic after nibbling on the coffee bushes.

The earliest evidence of coffee drinking occurred in the 15th century in Yemen. From Yemen, coffee quickly spread to Egypt and North Africa, and by the 16th century it was being enjoyed by the rest of the Middle East, Persia, and Turkey and soon thereafter Italy and the rest of Europe.

Fast forward to today. Coffee is ubiquitous in our culture. Everywhere you look, there’s a coffee shop on the corner. What effect might our cultural love of coffee have on our health?

Short answer: Well, we’re not completely sure.


Coffee’s risks

Research on coffee’s safety is mixed, for several reasons:

Metabolism matters. People vary genetically in how well they can process caffeine and coffee.
Coffee interacts with many hormones and neurotransmitters in the body, such as cortisol, acetylcholine, and insulin. These relationships are complex, and often depend on timing, amount, and people’s individual makeup.
As a crop, coffee is less like corn or soy, and more like cacao or wine grapes: It’s typically grown and processed in smaller batches by smaller-scale farmers and producers. Variations in soil and climate, as well as later roasting and brewing technique, will change the taste and chemical makeup. It’s hard to standardize the exact chemical compounds in coffee from batch to batch. (By the way, JB likes to roast his own coffee. You can follow along with his process here.)
So it’s hard to say definitively that coffee is “good” or “bad”; “healthy” or “unhealthy”. Let’s explore this in more depth.


What about my metabolism?

One reason that evidence on the health effects of coffee is so mixed is that people clear caffeine at different rates. Caffeine is broken down and cleared by the liver, and our genetic makeup shapes how quickly and effectively we can do this.

On one hand, “slow” metabolizers of caffeine don’t process caffeine effectively. These are people who are adversely affected by caffeine, get the jitters, and are wired for up to nine hours after consumption.
Others just get a boost in energy and alertness for a couple of hours; they are considered “fast” metabolizers of caffeine.
Research in the emerging field of nutrigenomics shows that about half of us have the gene variant that makes us “slow” metabolizers, while the other half enjoy the gene variant that allows them to get away with quad-espressos.

Thus, whether coffee is better or worse for you depends on how well and quickly you metabolize caffeine.

If you are a slow metabolizer of caffeine and coffee, steer clear (or at least, reduce your consumption). In your case, coffee can do more harm than good, and this may explain why high coffee consumption has been associated with:

  • higher risk of miscarriage
  • disrupted sleep
  • worse PMS symptoms
  • increased blood pressure, even in people without hypertension
  • non-fatal myocardial infarction (aka a heart attack)

On the plus side, low caffeine consumption still seems relatively safe for most folks, so a few daily cups of tea or squares of dark chocolate shouldn’t harm you (and in fact, may greatly boost your wellbeing!).

And fortunately, not everyone is adversely affected. For those lucky enough to be fast metabolizers, there is good news – and lots of it. Fast metabolizers don’t show the same association between coffee and disease — if you’re a fast metabolizer, coffee might even improve your health!


What about cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It increases blood pressure, spikes blood sugar and prepares the body for “fight or flight” mode.

Coffee and caffeine tend to transiently increase cortisol levels; however, this depends on several factors, including when you drink coffee, how often you drink it, and whether you have high blood pressure.

Cortisol is normally high in the morning, so if you drink some coffee at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., you should be fine, as cortisol is naturally elevated at that time of day anyway. However, your body may not appreciate coffee as much in the afternoon or evening, when cortisol normally drops. At that point, consider tea or something decaffeinated.

Again, there’s individual variation: Habitual consumers of coffee seem to be less affected by the cortisol bump, while those with hypertension seem to be more affected.

If cortisol levels are a problem for you, keep your coffee intake to first thing in the morning, and otherwise consume more tea. (Not only does tea have less caffeine, it also has other beneficial, calming compounds such as L-theanine.


What about pesticides?


Coffee plants are heavily sprayed with pesticides, which pose obvious health concerns. Fortunately, the plant’s structure offers some protection. While the outer “berry” does receive a lot of exposure, it’s the interior bean that is roasted and used for coffee, and its exposure is far less. In addition, the roasting process destroys the majority of pesticide residues.

If you’re especially wary of pesticides, choose organically grown coffee. (Hey, it can’t hurt.) And while you’re at it, look for the Fair Trade label, which helps insure that family farmers are paid a fair wage for their crops.


What about my insulin sensitivity?

While a high dose of caffeine tends to decrease insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance acutely, it doesn’t seem to cause chronic problems. While those at risk of developing diabetes may want to be cautious, overall coffee consumption is actually associated with a 35% decreased risk of developing type II diabetes.

What about my kids?

There’s no clear guideline on when kids can safely consume coffee. Guidelines on caffeine consumption are based mostly on the size of the child, rather than their chronological ages.

Nevertheless, Health Canada recommends:

no more than 45 milligrams a day for kids aged 4 to 6;
62.5 milligrams for kids age 7 to 9;
85 milligrams for kids age 10 to 12; and
no more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight for adolescents 13 and up.
All this means that a 110 pound adolescent should not have more than 125 milligrams of caffeine a day — about one 6-8 oz cup of coffee.

Bear in mind, too, that kids may be getting plenty of caffeine from soft drinks, bottled tea, etc.


Coffee’s benefits

Caffeine & dehydration

For years, fitness enthusiasts worried that coffee would dehydrate them. However, a recent review of 10 studies found that consuming up to 550 mg of caffeine per day (or about five 8-oz cups) does not cause fluid-electrolyte imbalances in athletes or fitness enthusiasts.

In another review, researchers concluded that consuming caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle does not lead to fluid losses exceeding the volume of fluid consumed (intake and output were roughly equal), nor is it associated with poor hydration status.

Take-home: Don’t drink coffee as your only beverage, and drink enough water, and you’ll be fine.


Coffee & performance

Let’s be honest — that first morning coffee can transform us from beast to philosopher (or at least, slightly more awake and nicer beast). Coffee, and more specifically its caffeine content, provide many noted mental and physical performance benefits.

Caffeine reduces our rate of perceived exertion, so it doesn’t feel like we’re working as hard as we actually are. People who regularly drink coffee perform better on tests of reaction time, verbal memory, and visuo-spatial reasoning.

Another study found that women over the age of 80 performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function if they had regularly consumed coffee over the course of their lifetimes.

Take-home: A little bit of coffee/caffeine before important tasks requiring alertness and energy can be a good thing.


Coffee & Parkinson’s


Parkinson’s disease is an incurable brain disease that decreases longevity and affects 1 percent to 2 percent of people over 65. Amazingly, at least six studies have found that regular coffee drinkers are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s.

Researchers have identified a gene called GRIN2A that appeared to protect people who drank coffee from developing Parkinson’s. GRIN2A is linked to glutamate, a compound that is suspected of killing the brain cells that die off in Parkinson’s patients. Glutamate can be affected by another compound called adenosine, and coffee interferes with this process.

However: Only about 25% of the population has the gene variant of GRIN2A that boosts the protective effect of coffee.

Take-home: Coffee may lower Parkinson’s risk, but only in a small subset of people.


Coffee & Alzheimer’s

Speaking of neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which gets progressively worse over time, and eventually leads to death.

What separates the research on Alzheimer’s from most of the other information covered in this article is that it derived from directly controlled trials versus simple observation.

Here, research indicates that people who drink about three cups of coffee a day show a marked reduction in cognitive impairment compared to non-drinkers. Once you got up to four or more cups per day, though, the associated protection disappears.

This protection was not seen with tea or decaf coffee, so the benefit seems to be from the combination of the caffeine and some of coffee’s bioactive compounds.

In fact, new research from the University of South Florida found that this combination boosts blood levels of a critical growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor) that seems to prevent the formation of Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease have less GCSF than the rest of the population. Increasing GCSF in mice improves their memory.

In the U of South Florida study, the researchers compared the effects of regular and decaf coffee to those of caffeine alone. In both Alzheimer’s mice and normal mice, treatment with regular coffee dramatically increased blood levels of GCSF; neither caffeine alone nor decaf coffee provided this effect.

GCSF seems to improve memory performance in the Alzheimer’s mice in three ways:

  • It recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease.
  • It creates new connections between brain cells.
  • It increases the birth of new neurons in the brain.

As the lead researcher, neuroscientist Dr. Chuanhai Cao, remarked: “Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, appears to directly attack the disease process, and has few side-effects for most of us”.

According to the researchers, no other Alzheimer’s therapy being developed comes close to meeting all these criteria.

Take-home: Coffee seems to contain compounds that may reduce Alzheimer’s risk; and may also be part of a treatment protocol in the future.


Coffee, antioxidants & cancer

While dark chocolate and green tea gather a lot of acclaim for their antioxidant content, coffee actually outshines them both in this department.

In fact, the antioxidants in coffee may make up as much as 50-70% of the total antioxidant intake of the average American! (Which is not necessarily a good thing, because it means that there are a lot of vegetables not getting eaten…)

Despite some general worries about the health effects of coffee, coffee consumption is associated with an overall decreased risk of cancer. In particular coffee consumption has been shown to be associated with a lower risk for oral, esophageal, pharyngeal, breast (in post-menopausal women), liver, colon, and aggressive prostate cancer.

When it comes to the prostate, researchers recently found that men who drank the most coffee (6 or more cups per day) were nearly 60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers. Other research has shown that people who regularly consume two or more cups per day may have a 25% decreased risk of colon cancer.

Again, the research is mixed in part because of the variation in response to coffee.

Take-home: Coffee may lower your cancer risk, but don’t count on it as your only health strategy. And eat some vegetables already.

Coffee & cardiovascular health
Drinking unfiltered types of coffee can increase your levels of LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol. But overall the data seems to indicate that coffee consumption may moderately reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular complications.

Take-home: Research is mixed on cardiovascular disease and coffee.


Coffee & overall mortality

A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that drinking two to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a 10% decreased risk of death for men at any age, and a 13% decreased risk of death for women at any age.

In general, coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents or infections. (Which makes us wonder… what do they die of? Espresso steamer mishaps?)

Take-home: Coffee appears to generally lower overall premature mortality slightly.


Summary & recommendations

Coffee’s not for everyone. And it’s not a magic bullet. Still, it seems to have significant health benefits for those who can tolerate it. This includes:

  • better athletic and mental performance
  • possibly lower rates of some types of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and Type 2 diabetes
  • possibly some prevention of premature mortality and cardiovascular disease

Most of the research on coffee is epidemiological. This means studies look at associations rather than cause and effect. Simply because coffee is associated with particular risks and benefits doesn’t necessarily mean that coffee causes all of these risks or benefits.

Just as with all foods (and nutrients for that matter), dosage matters. While some studies have found large intakes (5-6 cups) to have significant benefits, other research suggests that drinking that much coffee is counter-productive.

In general, it appears that drinking some coffee is good, but more might not be better, especially if you are a slow metabolizer. For those who are greatly affected by coffee and caffeine, avoid it altogether or cut down your consumption.

Want a quick and easy test of your coffee consumption? Ask yourself how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally a few hours after you drink some… as well as if you miss your daily dose.

Also, go black if possible. Pumping your coffee full of cream, sugar, and other exotic additives reduces any potential health benefits by adding unnecessary calories and artificial flavours and sweeteners. (And Frappucinos or chocolate covered coffee beans? C’mon.)

Taking all the data into consideration, it seems that your best bet is about 1-3 cups of coffee (8-24 oz) per day. This will maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk.

And keep this in mind…while there is positive data on coffee, these benefits don’t necessarily include things like energy drinks and caffeine pills. There are many antioxidants and bioactive compounds in coffee that are interacting with its caffeine content to provide the benefits. So, unfortunately, Red Bull doesn’t count.

Eat, move, and live… better.

Yep, we know… the health and fitness world can sometimes be a confusing place. But it doesn’t have to be.

Read More