I’m sure many of us have heard both sides of the great coffee debate – to drink or not to drink coffee? In my personal (and professional) opinion, coffee is a great addition to anyone’s daily routine while obviously keeping in mind portion sizes and number of servings. I usually recommend no more than 1-2 cups of coffee daily to patients who are already regular coffee consumers. And when I mean “one cup” of coffee I mean no more than a 12oz cup, which is about equivalent to 100-200mg of caffeine, depending on the roast and how your brew is being made.
Here are my top four reasons why you should keep a small to moderate amount of coffee in your life if you’re already a regular coffee drinker and don’t have any adverse effects from a little java.
It can help protect your brain.
A number of studies have suggested a relationship between moderate coffee intake and brain health. One study in particular showed that seniors who consumed one to two cups of coffee a day had lower rates of mild cognitive impairment than those who never or rarely drank coffee. Interestingly enough is this beneficial association was not found among people whose coffee intake exceeded two cups per day. Other studies on caffeine in relation to brain health highlight its “neuroprotective” effect in minimizing damage on brain tissues in Alzheimer’s disease as well as decreasing the incidence of Parkinson’s disease.
It can support and protect your liver.
The liver’s primary purpose is to support our bodies’ natural detoxification processes. With the constant exposure to toxins and chemicals in our daily lives, our livers are certainly working overtime. Thankfully, regular coffee consumption has been shown to support liver health and reduce the risk of liver-related diseases, including liver cancer. While the exact mechanisms of action through which coffee exerts its beneficial effects on the liver are not fully understood, it has been shown to promote antioxidant capacity through an increase in glutathione and modulation of the expression of several inflammatory mediators. Long story short – it helps the body reduce inflammation. And it doesn’t even have to be caffeinated coffee – even decaf java can lower liver enzyme levels!
It may help you live longer.
Good news for the ladies out there – regular coffee consumption can help you live longer and may decrease your risk of death due to coronary heart disease and colorectal cancer. One study suggested that women who drank moderate amounts of coffee had a 55% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 25% lower risk of death from all causes. Coffee is a major source of dietary antioxidants and this may explain why regular coffee intake is linked with a decreased risk of many different types of diseases, particularly those of an inflammatory nature that can lead to early mortality if not properly addressed.
It can cut your odds for type 2 diabetes.
Regular coffee intake has been shown to be inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes in a dose-dependent manner. And great news for those who are more sensitive to the caffeine component of coffee – just as with helping to lower liver enzymes, even decaf coffee can protect against type 2 diabetes. It’s important to remember however that simply increasing coffee intake isn’t the answer for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Proper nutrition, regular exercise and stress management techniques are equally as important and the synergy between it all is the key to prevention.
While the research on coffee consumption continues to grow, what has been suggested is that adding a delightful cup of coffee into your day isn’t going to harm you and can possibly provide a number of benefits to your health. With anything, it’s always important to aim for moderation and remember the wise words from the great Paracelsus – “the dose makes the poison.”
Morisco, F; et. al. (2014 Nov-Dec). Coffee and liver health. J Clin Gastroenterol. 48 Suppl 1:S87-90.
Mundell, EJ. (2015 Jul 31). Moderate Coffee Drinking and Seniors’ Brain Health. WebMD News from HealthDay. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20150731/regular-moderate-coffee-drinking-tied-to-better-brain-health-in-seniors
Nordqvist, J. (2015 Nov 17). Coffee: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information. Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270202.php
Sugiyama, K; et. al. (2010). Coffee Consumption and Mortality Due to All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer in Japanese Women. J Nutr. 140:1007-13.
Yarmolinsky, J; et. al. (2015). Coffee Consumption, Newly Diagnosed Diabetes and Other Alterations in Glucose Homeostasis: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). PLoS One. 10(5):e0126469.