People who drink moderate amounts of coffee each day have a lower risk of death from disease


Image: People who drink moderate amounts of coffee each day have a lower risk of death from disease

Many people drink coffee for an energy boost, but do you know that it can also prolong your life? A study published in the journal Circulation revealed that moderate amounts — or less than five cups — of coffee each day can lower your risk of death from many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and nervous system disorders. It can also lower death risk due to suicide.

The study’s researchers explained this effect could be attributed to coffee’s naturally occurring chemical compounds. These bioactive compounds reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation, which might be responsible for the association between coffee and mortality. (Related: Coffee drinkers have a lower mortality rate and lower risk of various cancers.)

The researchers reached this conclusion after analyzing the coffee consumption every four years of participants from three large studies: 74,890 women in the Nurses’ Health Study; 93,054 women in the Nurses’ Health Study 2; and 40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They did this by using validated food questionnaires. During the follow-up period of up to 30 years, 19,524 women and 12,432 men died from different causes.

They found that people who often consumed coffee tend to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. To differentiate the effects of coffee from smoking, they carried out their analysis again among non-smokers. Through this, the protective benefits of coffee on deaths became even more apparent.

With these findings, the researchers suggested that regular intake of coffee could be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, pregnant women and children should consider the potential high intake of caffeine from coffee or other drinks.

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Because the study was not designed to show a direct cause and effect relationship between coffee consumption and dying from illness, the researchers noted that the findings should be interpreted with caution. Still, this study contributes to the claim that moderate consumption of coffee offers health benefits.

The many benefits of coffee

Many studies have shown that drinking a cup of coffee provides health benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Coffee helps prevent diabetes: A study conducted by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers showed that drinking coffee helps prevent Type 2 diabetes by increasing levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which regulates hormones that influence the development of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) also found that increased coffee intake may lower Type 2 diabetes risk.
  • Coffee protects against Parkinson’s disease: Studies have shown that consuming more coffee and caffeine may significantly lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease. It has also been reported that the caffeine content of coffee may help control movement in people with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Coffee keeps the liver healthy: Coffee has some protective effects on the liver. Studies have shown that regular intake of coffee can protect against liver diseases, such as primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and cirrhosis of the liver, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. Drinking decaffeinated coffee also decreases liver enzyme levels. Research has also shown that coffee may help ward off cancer. A study by Italian researchers revealed that coffee intake cuts the risk of liver cancer by up to 40 percent. Moreover, some of the results indicate that drinking three cups of coffee a day may reduce liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent.
  • Coffee prevents heart disease: A study conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and HSPC researchers showed that moderate coffee intake, or two European cups, each day prevents heart failure. Drinking four European cups a day can lower heart failure risk by 11 percent.

Is Coffee Consumption Good Or Bad For Health?


Caffeine could boost stress, cortisol levels and sleep deprivation. Beneficially, coffee can help balance blood sugar, weight gain and reduces the risk of prostate/liver/breast/gastric and colo-rectal cancers. Caffeine in moderation is the key but poses problems when it is in excess. Replace coffee with turmeric milk, water with lemon and Matcha green tea latte.

Is coffee really unhealthy for us ? As a Registered Nutritional Therapist, I’m asked questions like this all the time. And seeing what goes on in the health and wellness digital space can sometimes be confusing and rather comical.

I often see trends and dogmas being repeated, thrown around and then taken as fact. Let’s strip back this myth once and for all. Is coffee unhealthy or not?

Coffee: An Acidity Indicator?

In the UK, we drink approximately 70 million cups of coffee per day and coffee is the primary source of caffeine in our diet. Although numerous studies show drinking coffee can improve health like lowering risk of certain types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease; caffeine in coffee might not be great for everyone.

Other than the “pH acidic theory”, when did coffee get such a bad reputation?

Advocates and guru’s who have shied away from coffee consumption purely based on the fact that it’s “acidic” leave me wondering if they know what our bodies actually do to control pH balance in the body.

  • Yes, coffee is acidic and foods do contribute to an overall alkaline or acidic ash in our bodies, but we have to give our bodies more credit here, homeostasis keeps us in balance and regulates our pH levels.
  • Food can also affect this and 1 cup of coffee may show up “acidic” in a urinary analysis (or using urine strips to test), but this doesn’t support this theory and urine strips aren’t a great measure for our overall body pH (more on the acid vs. alkaline diet theory later).

Whereas, abstaining from coffee because of individual preference or your sensitivity to it- well, that’s another story to dive into with some credibility.

Potential Problems From Coffee Consumption

The quality and how it was grown. I’ve spoken before about my recommendation to only use fair trade and organic sources of coffee (and chocolate) to make sure you’re supporting healthful working practices, but organic also ensures high quality coffee beans.

Coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops with pesticides so I’d highly recommend going organic.

1. Caffeine Dependency

I never knew how much I relied on the caffeine in coffee to “wake me up” for the day until I was laying in bed one Sunday morning– I just wanted to sleep in. Yet, what interrupted my plans for sleeping in was this pull to the kitchen to get coffee; it was at that point I realized how caffeine can have dependency and addictive qualities.

I cut out coffee cold turkey that day and only started integrating it into my diet a couple years ago. I’m sharing my experience with you to test you, to encourage you to ask yourself “what would happen if I cut out coffee?”

Do you know what you feel like without caffeine/coffee? For this reason, I recommend cycling caffeine and coffee use to keep your body in check.

2. Caffeine: Stress Booster Or Buster?

Caffeine from coffee is a stimulant and is great for post-workout for some individuals but on the other hand, if you are suffering from anxiety or are living with high stress, coffee isn’t for you. On the other hand, caffeine has also been shown to help decrease depression and symptoms of anxiety, these studied we’re probably “fast metabolizers”.

3. The Hormonal Connection

I’m fascinated with the role our hormones play in our bodies like Cortisol. Cortisol is an interesting hormone (and most people that know me hear me talk about it often – apologies to you guys).

  • When your body is under physical/mental/emotional stress, your cortisol levels increase. It’s a normal stress response – what’s not normal is chronically high levels of cortisol.
  • Caffeine in coffee can exacerbate stress and increases cortisol levels.

Again, if you’re a sensitive individual be mindful of this. Cortisol in particular has this tricky way of throwing our delicate hormonal balance, off. Dr. Sara Gottfried speaks to this as the “progesterone steal” and how it may not be the best to consume for those with thyroid issues.

4. Caffeine: A Sleep Disruptor?

Are you burning the candle from both ends? Emotional, physical, mental stress, chronic illness, not sleeping well, or not following your self-care routine? You could be more sensitive to caffeine under these times of stress on the body.

  • Be mindful and listen into what your body is telling you.
  • If you feel worn down, coffee might be too much and exaggerate your symptoms especially when consumed closer to the late afternoon/evening times.

Some say the caffeine didn’t affect sleep at all whereas others couldn’t sleep. This just goes to show we’re all unique and we have to find what works for us.

5. Caffeine Metabolism

Our liver does many things and metabolizing caffeine is one of them. Some of us are “slow metabolizers” of caffeine (due to a gene called CYP1A2) which basically means you process caffeine slowly which can increase your chances for impaired fasting glucose, heart disease, and hypertension.

6. Reduction In Nutrient Absorption

Caffeine could slow down the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc, which may lead to iron deficiency (Anemia).

Benefits Derived From Coffee Consumption

  1. Cancer: May reduce risk for certain types of cancers including prostate, liver, breast, gastric and colo-rectal cancers.
  2. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Coffee may help improve blood sugar and weight reduction with the consumption of 1 1-1/2 cups of coffee a day.
  3. Inflammation: Coffee could reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and HDL cholesterol.
  4. Mental and athletic performance: Caffeine increases blood flow and circulation to the muscles; since it’s a stimulant you can guess this would give you a jolt in the gym. S
  5. Calorie Burn: Some studies have shown that you can burn 15% more calories with a pre-workout cup of coffee.
  6. Depression: On the mental/emotional front, some studies have shown that depression decreases with increases in caffeine (these could be the “fast metabolizers” we discussed earlier).

The Verdict

Coffee isn’t “bad” for you or unhealthy, but sensitive individuals should be mindful of caffeine and listen to their body, especially during stressful periods in life. I personally love coffee, but there’s a fine line between enjoying it in moderation and triggering my migraines.

Take Action! Want To Test Getting “Off Coffee”? Try This:

Day 1: consume your normal amount, for example 1 cup
Day 2: cut down 1/4 cup, for example drinking 3/4 cup
Day 3: cut down 1/4 cup
Day 4: cut down 1/2 cup, for example drinking 1/2 cup
Day 5: cut down 1/2 cup
Day 6: consume only 1/4 cup, for example drinking just a small amount
Day 7: You are done; replace with the following recipes!

Replace Your Coffee With These:

  • Turmeric Milk
  • Matcha Green Tea Latte
  • Warm water with lemon

It is now your turn to decide if Coffee is good for you or not!
//

Another Perk for Drinking Coffee


Nearly 60 percent of Americans drink coffee, and for many the habit is a daily one.1 Coffee drinking has long been viewed as more of a vice or a crutch to get a quick energy boost to power through the day, but this view is now changing as the health benefits of coffee continue to be revealed.

This is good news for those of you who sip on a cup of joe in the morning, as it turns out this may be a quite healthy way to start your day.

However, please remember that coffee is one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops in the world. If you drink it please be sure to get organic and ideally fair traded, This is less than 3% of all coffee.

Daily Coffee Boosts Colon Cancer Survival

Among people with advanced (stage III) colon cancer, drinking four or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily lowered the risk of cancer recurrence or death during the study by 52 percent compared to those who drank no coffee.

Drinking two or three cups per day was also beneficial, lowering the risk of recurrence or death by 31 percent.

The researchers stressed that other caffeinated beverages, such as soda, did not have the same effect. No link was found between decaffeinated coffee and risk of colon cancer recurrence either.

Further, a causal link was not found. This means it could simply be that coffee drinkers tend to follow a healthier overall lifestyle that’s contributing to the lower risk. However, the antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds in coffee have been linked to a lower chronic disease risk before.

In fact, coffee has been linked to a lower risk type 2 diabetes as well, a condition known to increase the risk of colon cancer. It’s likely that compounds in coffee may lower the risk of multiple chronic diseases via similar pathways.

As reported by the New York Times:2

The researchers’ hypothesis is that the factors that increase risk for Type 2 diabetes, such as obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and high insulin levels, also drive colon cancer, Dr. [Charles S.] Fuchs [director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston] said.

And many studies have shown that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk for Type 2 diabetes, a chronic illness that may increase the risk of colon cancer.

‘We believe that activating the energy pathways that contribute to heart disease and diabetes is also relevant for the proliferation of cancer cells,’ Dr. Fuchs said, while also stressing that more research was needed.

The analysis determined the lowered risk associated with coffee was… because of the caffeine. One hypothesis is that caffeine increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, so it requires less of the hormone. That, in turn, may reduce inflammation, which is a risk factor for diabetes and cancer.”

What Else Does the Research Say About Coffee and Cancer?

While a number of individual studies have suggested coffee consumption might increase your cancer risk, when multiple studies are analyzed, such as is the case with meta-analyses, the association disappears, and, in fact, becomes protective.

For instance, one 2007 meta-analysis found an increase in consumption of two cups of coffee per day was associated with a 43 percent reduced risk of liver cancer3 – a finding that has been confirmed by more recent research.

Not to mention, coffee appears to have additional benefits for liver health, slowing down the progression of liver disease to cirrhosis, improving responses in people with hepatitis C, and lowering the risk of death in people with cirrhosis.4

The potential benefit of coffee for liver health appears so strong that researchers have stated daily coffee consumption should be encouraged in people with chronic liver disease.5

Another meta-analysis involving 59 studies revealed an increase in consumption of one cup of coffee per day was associated with a 3 percent reduced risk of cancers.6 According to the researchers:

“[C]offee drinking was associated with a reduced risk of bladder, breast, buccal and pharyngeal, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, hepatocellular, leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.”7

There’s even research showing coffee consumption could lower your risk of skin cancer. Drinking four cups of caffeinated coffee daily might reduce your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.8

According to researchers:

“[C]offee constituents suppress UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis, induce cell apoptosis, protect against oxidative stress and DNA damage, reduce inflammation in epidermal cells, and inhibit changes in DNA methylation.”9

Women who consumed more than three cups of coffee a day had a significantly lower risk of basal cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer) than those who consumed less than one cup per month.10

Roasted Coffee Contains More Than 1,000 Compounds, Many of Which May Help Fight Cancer

Coffee has multiple potential anti-cancer pathways. As mentioned, caffeine is one of them, as its been shown to both stimulate and suppress tumors depending on the cancer and when it’s administered.11

Polyphenols in coffee, such as lignan phytoestrogens, flavonoids, and polyphenols are also known to have anti-cancer properties, as does caffeic acid, which inactivates several pathways involved in the development of tumors – including cell cycle regulation, inflammatory and stress response, and apoptosis.

Researchers noted in the journal BMC Cancer:12

“There are two specific diterpenes in coffee, cafestol and kahweal, which produce biological effects compatible with anti-carcinogenic properties, including the induction of phase II enzymes involved in carcinogen detoxification, specific inhibition of the activity of phase I enzyme responsible for carcinogen activation, and stimulation of intracellular antioxidant defense mechanisms.

Coffee is also a major source of the chlorogenic acid that contributes to its antioxidant effect. Intake of chlorogenic acid has been shown to reduce glucose concentrations in rats and intake of quinides, degradation products of chlorogenic acid, increases insulin sensitivity.

Chronic hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance are confirmed markers of high risk for some cancer sites.”

The Benefits of Coffee: From Your Heart to Your Brain

The benefits of coffee are becoming so well established that, for the first time, a government advisory committee included a mention of caffeine in its recommendations for the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The report said Americans could safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day, or approximately 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, with no detrimental effects.13

The recommendation was based on an evaluation of multiple meta-analyses and other studies evaluating the link between coffee and chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Here’s a sampling of what the research shows:

Heart Health

In a study of more than 25,000 people, those who drank a moderate amount of coffee – defined as three to five cups daily – were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than those who drank no coffee or more coffee daily.14

A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.” Coronary artery calcium can be a significant predictor of future heart disease risk.

In addition, one study showed moderate coffee drinking reduces your chances of being hospitalized for heart rhythm problems. 15 Another study found it may trigger a 30 percent increase in blood flow in your small blood vessels, which might take some strain off your heart.16

Another study, a meta-analysis that included data from 11 studies and nearly 480,000 people found drinking two to six cups of coffee a day was associated with a lower risk of stroke.17

Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease

Drinking four to six cups of coffee a day is associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis, as is drinking a high amount of coffee over five to 10 years. According to researchers, Caffeine has neuroprotective properties and seems to suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.”18 Higher coffee and caffeine intake are also associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.19

Dementia

Caffeine promotes production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, and triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health.

Among people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), those with higher blood levels of caffeine (due to coffee consumption) were less likely to progress to full-blown dementia.20 Caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset, particularly for those who already have MCI,” the researchers said.

Premature Death

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has even shown that coffee consumption is inversely associated with premature death. The more coffee drank, the lower the risk of death became, including deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.21

Coffee Is the Number One Source of Antioxidants in the US

Another reason why coffee may have such dramatic effects on Americans’ health is because it is the number one source ofantioxidants in the US diet. The research, which was presented at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, showed that Americans get more antioxidants from drinking coffee than from any other dietary source, with researchers noting “nothing else even comes close.”22

Examples of the antioxidants in coffee include significant amounts of hydrocinnamic acid and polyphenols. Antioxidants are nature’s way of providing your cells with adequate defense against attack by reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals.

Free radicals are a type of a highly reactive metabolite that is naturally produced by your body as a result of normal metabolism and energy production. They are your natural biological response to environmental toxins like cigarette smoke, sunlight, chemicals, cosmic, and manmade radiation, and are even a key feature of pharmaceutical drugs. Your body also produces free radicals when you exercise and when you have inflammation anywhere in your body.

As long as you have these important micronutrients, your body will be able to resist aging caused by your everyday exposure to pollutants. If you don’t have an adequate supply of antioxidants to help squelch free radicals, then you can be at risk of oxidative stress, which leads to accelerated tissue and organ damage.

While fruits, such as berries, and vegetables are ideal sources of antioxidants, many Americans don’t eat the recommended amounts each day. This is why coffee, which is consumed widely on a daily basis, represents such a large dietary share of antioxidants. If you’re not a coffee drinker, you can easily boost your antioxidant intake by eating fresh produce – and even if you do drink coffee, getting your antioxidants from a wide variety of sources is still important.

Is Decaf Coffee a Healthy Choice?

The coffee beans used to make decaffeinated, or decaf, coffee undergo a process to remove most of the caffeine. In order to be labeled decaffeinated, the coffee must have 97 percent of the original caffeine content removed.23 This may be preferable for those who are highly sensitive to caffeine (for instance experiencing jitters after one regular cup), but there are some considerations. For starters, some of the research on coffee’s health benefits have shown caffeinated coffee to be more effective than decaf (the featured colon cancer study is one such example).

In particular, caffeinated coffee has also been linked to a lower risk of liver damage, increased metabolic rate, reduced risk of depression and suicidal thoughts, and enhanced athletic performance while decaf coffee has not.24 The process used to decaffeinate the coffee is also important to be aware of.

One of the most commonly used methods is Direct Process, which uses the chemical methyl chloride to remove the caffeine from coffee beans. Starbucks, for instance, uses this process on most of its decaf brews (although it also offers a “naturally processed” decaf Sumatra blend).25

The National Cancer Institute lists methyl chloride as a possible carcinogen, so it’s something you’re better off avoiding (trace amounts are sometimes detected in decaf coffee, although typically at levels below 1 part per million). Natural Process decaffeination uses either ethyl acetate (a plant hormone) or carbon dioxide to remove caffeine, while the Swiss Water process uses only water. Only the carbon dioxide or Swiss water methods are allowed in coffee that’s certified organic. If you choose to drink decaffeinated coffee, be sure to choose one that is decaffeinated using one of these latter two methods.

Another option, if you’re simply looking for a lower-caffeine blend, is to choose Arabica beans, which naturally have about half the caffeine content of Robusta beans. 26 Also, keep in mind that even decaffeinated coffee is not caffeine free (a typical cup of decaf may contain 3 to 18 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, compared to between 140 to 300 mg in a regular cup.

This is an important distinction for pregnant women to be aware of. Public health agencies suggest pregnant women limit daily caffeine to 200 mg (or about two cups of coffee a day). However, caffeine can significantly impact the growing fetus. It is able to freely pass through the placenta, and since caffeine does not provide any benefits to your baby, only potential hazards, I strongly recommend pregnant women avoid ALL forms of caffeine.

How to Ruin a Good Cup of Coffee…

If you want to drink coffee for its health benefits, drink your coffee black, without sugar, non-dairy creamer or cream, or flavorings. If you are dousing your cup of coffee in creamer, non-dairy creamer, sugar, and other sweeteners and flavorings, you are missing out on the therapeutic benefits and potentially harming your health.

The natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants are part of what makes coffee so healthy. However, some research suggests that adding dairy to your coffee may interfere with your body’s absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids.27 Meanwhile, if you add sugar to your coffee you’ll spike your insulin levels, which contributes to insulin resistance.

Also, coffee beans are one of the most heavily pesticides-sprayed crops. So, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Remember, you will obliterate any positive effects if you consume coffee that’s been doused in pesticides or other chemicals. Whenever possible, purchase sustainable “shade-grown” coffee to help prevent the continued destruction of our tropical rain forests and the birds that inhabit them.

There are many who say shade-grown coffee tastes better as well. In addition, you’ll want to purchase whole bean coffee that smells and tastes fresh, not stale; if your coffee does not have a pleasant aroma, it is likely rancid. Grind it yourself to prevent rancidity, as pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you get it home. If you use a “drip” coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones are chlorine-bleached, and some of this chlorine will leach from the filter during the brewing process. Bleached filters are also notoriously full of dangerous disinfection byproducts, such as dioxin.

Finally, while it appears coffee in moderation is beneficial, be careful not to overdo it, as some studies have found adverse effects when about 10 cups a day or more are consumed. When referring to a “cup” of coffee, most research considers it to be five to eight ounces with about 100 mg of caffeine. In contrast, a small cup at many coffee houses starts at 12 ounces while a large cup may hold 20 to 24 ounces. Simply be aware of how much you’re actually consuming.

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