What Exactly is Smart Coffee and How Does it Work?
As people become more health conscious, we look for more and more ways to build healthier choices in our everyday lives. There are a number of coffee substitutes and alternatives out that claim to offer additional health benefits, on top of those already associated with drinking regular coffee.
On the face of it, smart coffee (also known as happy coffee), sounds like a typical health and wellness product that promises weight loss, increased energy, and a new lease on life.
Many people rave about how great smart coffee is, even mentioning they get more energy from it than regular coffee!
This is a bold claim and one that needs to be put to the test. Many brands out there claim to have developed a substitute for your regular cup of Joe that promises to improve your mood and regulate your hormones in a more natural and harmonious way than regular coffee.
The question is, does it really work?
What is Smart Coffee?
I have to admit, smart coffee was something that was pretty new to me. I have heard of plenty of coffee alternatives, from mushroom coffee to chai lattes, but smart coffee just sounded like a load of fluff.
However, when I dug a little deeper into the topic, I came across a number of articles and studies.
Smart Coffee is made using nootropics, or “smart drugs”, that help improve brain function. Nootropics are natural substances that help to improve memory, alertness, focus, and mood regulation. Smart coffee can be used as an alternative to regular coffee.
The idea behind “smart drugs” is that they enhance the body’s secretion of hormones that prove beneficial to cognitive function. In other words, they help your brain work more effectively.
However, there is more to these substances than meets the eye.
What you may not realize is that caffeine is actually classed as a nootropic drug, as it has a number of brain-boosting benefits.
However, smart coffee is developed using lesser-known nootropic chemicals such as L-Theanine, Chromium Polynicotinate, and Phenylethylamine.
What are Nootropics?
Whilst the term “nootropics” may be a new one to you, there are actually many common substances that have nootropic properties that you almost certainly consume on a regular basis.
According to A. Srivastava, … A.B. Pant, in New Look to Phytomedicine, 2019, the term nootropic is derived from “noos” and “tropein”, which refer to the mind being monitored.
The idea is that a nootropic substance has the ability to work in tandem with the secretion of hormones and improve your brain’s ability to function in a number of areas. Nootropics are now classed more broadly as any substance that has the ability to improve the general functioning of the brain.
Whilst there are numerous studies citing the efficacy of nootropics in small samples, experiments testing the effects of nootropic drugs on the general populace are a bit more limited.
Naturally, there are so many nootropics out there it is difficult for high-quality, robust studies to be performed on all of them.
Whilst it is clear to see how impactful commonly used nootropics like caffeine, nicotine, and creatine have been on society, the jury is still out on some of the lesser-known synthetic smart drugs.
Therefore, if you are going to go ahead and try some smart coffee for yourself, it is well worth reading the ingredients list and researching the exact nootropic substance and other active ingredients listed.
Here are some of the most commonly used nootropic (smart drugs) according to Erica Julson, MS, RDN, CLT on January 26, 2022, via Healthline:
- Caffeine: Found in Coffee
- Creatine: Found in Protein Supplements
- Nicotine: Found in Cigarettes
- Amphetamines: Found in Adderall
- L-Theanine: Found in Tea.
Julson also notes a number of ancient plants that have been used for centuries along with more modern, synthetic nootropics that take the form of prescription drugs.
How Does Smart Coffee Actually Work?
Whilst nootropics seem to have numerous purported benefits, there is still ongoing debate as to just how effective they are. Many studies have noted the improved brain function associated with consuming nootropic substances. However, there are some that believe this is more of a placebo effect taking place.
Nootropic drugs were first introduced on a prescription-only basis to treat conditions such as “Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease” (Noor Azuin Suliman, Che Norma Mat Taib, Mohamad Aris Mohd Moklas, Mohd Ilham Adenan, Mohamad Taufik Hidayat Baharuldin, Rusliza Basir, “Establishing Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Enhancement Influenced by Natural Nootropic“, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016).
What’s more, Steven R. Flanagan MD, Heidi Fusco MD, in Stroke Rehabilitation, 2019 found that the nootropic Piracetam, which has been utilized for decades, can actually mitigate the loss of cognitive function following a stroke. They also found that Piracetam “increases cerebral blood flow and glucose metabolism”, two key factors that protect the brain.
The effects of nootropic substances are not just limited to brain function, however. Alison M. Pack, in Osteoporosis (Fourth Edition), 2013 found that Levetiracetam
(a close relative of Piracetam) has been used to treat “both partial and generalized seizures”, due to its anticonvulsant properties.
On the contrary, the ethical and effective use of nootropics has been brought into question by Tripati, A., Mathew, M., Nayak, V., & Kurady, L. B. (2016) in Cognitive enhancers-truth vs. hype. Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences. They note that there is a “dearth of literature regarding their long-term safety and efficacy”, particularly in a ‘healthy’ population.
The main concern that some researchers see with nootropics is not necessarily that they are unsafe for consumption in their own right. It is more than nootropic substances have historically been used to treat cognitive disorders, (to great effect), but the evidence for them being beneficial for people without these disorders is limited.
The important thing to remember here is that, whilst nootropics may well be very beneficial to some, particularly those suffering from diagnosed mental disorders, they are no silver bullet.
Benefits of Smart Coffee
When it comes to smart coffee, there are a number of benefits that can be associated with building it into your morning routine.
Where regular coffee stimulates you and stops you from feeling quite so tired, there are many additional benefits that nootropic-infused coffee can bring.
As per Schifano F, Catalani V, Sharif S, Napoletano F, Corkery JM, Arillotta D, Fergus S, Vento A, Guirguis A. “Benefits and Harms of ‘Smart Drugs’ (Nootropics) in Healthy Individuals” in The National Library of Medicine 2022, benefits of using nootropics include:
- Improved Memory
- Learning Abilities
- Executive Function.
There are also a number of anecdotal benefits proposed in “What is Smart Coffee? This is what it really did for me” by My Nourished Home (ND), which include:
- Regulation of Cravings
- Weight Loss
- Mental Clarity
- Improved Attention Span
- Pain Relief
- Improved Sleep Quality
- Improved Energy Levels.
Potential Downsides of Smart Coffee
The above study by Schifano F, Catalani V, Sharif S, Napoletano F, Corkery JM, Arillotta D, Fergus S, Vento A, Guirguis A. “Benefits and Harms of ‘Smart Drugs’ (Nootropics) in Healthy Individuals” in The National Library of Medicine 2022 also highlights the potential drawbacks associated with using nootropic drugs for non-medical reasons.
In fact “since most CEs are stimulants, the related modulation of central noradrenaline, glutamate, and dopamine levels may lead to cardiovascular, neurological, and psychopathological complications”.
In other words, the fact that nootropics artificially stimulate the brain means your natural ability to produce chemicals like dopamine, associated with mood regulation and pleasure, may be inhibited.
As per Barbara Brody in “What Are Nootropics?” 2022 for WebMD, there may be a number of drawbacks to taking nootropics if you don’t actually need them. These include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Blurry vision
Therefore, nootropics should not be consumed without the consultation of a medical professional. Whilst many companies out there may claim their products offer a number of cognitive benefits, be aware that there are also some potential side effects that should be considered.
Popular Smart Coffee Brands
If you are thinking of giving nootropic-based smart coffee a try, here are some of the most popular brands on the market today.
Again, it is worth doing your research into the company you are thinking of buying from themselves, as well as the active ingredients listed on the packaging.
This is the million-dollar question. After all, is said and done, is smart coffee really worth it?
Well, it is worth pointing out that smart coffee tends to be quite expensive. Many of them can be double the price of a regular bag of coffee!
However, it could be argued that the price is more than justified if you benefit from the calming clarity that nootropic-infused coffee can bring.
That being said, it would make sense to give smart or happy coffee a try if you are already suffering from acute stress, a mental disorder, or a physical condition that stops you from performing daily routines effectively.
In these circumstances, it could be well worth giving smart coffee a try, especially if you prefer the idea of including it in your morning routine rather than taking a prescription drug.
However, if you are a healthy individual that is not suffering from any debilitating physical or mental ailments, then proceed with caution. That is not to say that smart coffee is inherently dangerous, but just that there is a lack of widespread study on its use of it in “healthy” individuals.
Smart coffee won’t suddenly give you superpowers, but if you already lead a healthy lifestyle, get plenty of sleep, have a balanced diet, and can effectively manage your stress, it can be the icing on the cake.
Overall, smart coffee can be used as a great tool to improve your mood and give you that get-up-and-go you need in the morning!
Unlike regular coffee, smart or happy coffee is packed with additional nootropic substances which help to boost your brain function.
Whilst nootropic-based coffee may not be the most researched product out there in healthy individuals, if you are suffering from a mental or physical disorder, you may well benefit from giving it a try.
Is Smart Coffee Safe?
Generally speaking, yes drinking smart coffee is safe. There are some side effects associated with ingesting nootropic substances, but these are unlikely to be harmful unless the substance is consumed in large quantities.
Can Smart Coffee Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, smart coffee with nootropics can actually help you lose weight. However, it is more of an indirect effect, as the coffee gives you more energy, helps curb your cravings, and can regulate your hormones.
Therefore, the combined effect of these factors can indeed cause you to lose weight.