I don’t know about you but I can’t incarnate properly into the day without a cup of coffee. What’s more, I can’t get through an afternoon without a steaming cappuccino from the little place around the corner.
And now I find out that this habit of mine, this beloved daily routine, this addiction is okay. It’s sanctioned. By science, no less.
Yes, science has much to say about the health benefits of drinking coffee.
In fact, coffee is so good for you, drinking it might prolong your life!
Coffee is one of the most highly sought-after and traded commodities in the world and it’s one of the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide.
So it would be great if the world’s favorite drink is also a healthy drink, wouldn’t it?
This is exactly what research seems to be indicating.
An umbrella review of 201 meta-analyses of observational research and 17 meta-analyses of interventional research across all countries and all settings has unearthed some astonishing health benefits of coffee.
The review, published in The BMJ, showed that “coffee consumption was more often associated with benefit than harm over various health outcomes”.
Drinking three to four cups a day is associated with health benefits across a range of diseases and conditions, say the researchers.
For instance, if you drink three or four cups a day, you are less likely to die early. The researchers found that people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day were at a lower risk of premature death.
But that’s not all.
Those of us who love our coffee also stand to reap more health benefits compared to people who don’t drink it. Coffee drinkers were found to have a lower risk of heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and dementia.
In case you were wondering – do you get more health benefits if you drink more of it? Not really – drinking more than three cups a day was not linked to harm, but the beneficial effects were less pronounced.
Should we start drinking coffee to prevent disease? No, says Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. People should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.
Also, pregnant women and women who are at risk of bone fractures should avoid it.
The scientists admit that the conclusions were mainly drawn from observational data, which don’t provide firm conclusions, only correlation.
But this is not the last word on the health benefits of coffee. Other studies confirm these findings.
The more coffee you drink, the longer you live
The National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the Feinberg School of medicine at Northwestern University analyzed data from participants in a large genetic study in Britain called the U.K. Biobank.
This study involved more than half a million people who donated blood and provided information about their lifestyle choices and their health.
The study confirmed that coffee drinkers live longer than non-coffee drinkers, but even more amazing, the more coffee people drink, the longer they live.
As with the previous study, this one was also observational and showed correlation, not cause.
Scientists can’t draw the conclusion that drinking coffee will cause people to be healthy.
However, if you take into account the sample size of the study, it’s reasonable to draw the conclusion that drinking it is not bad for your health.
After all, for 502,641 participants ranging from 38 to 73 years old, and including both genders, it was found that the more coffee a person drank the less likely they were to die.
With such a large sample, the scientists were able to unearth many other associations with coffee drinking. For instance, habitual smoking was associated with drinking a lot of coffee.
It protects heart health
A new study from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany found that four cups of coffee protects the heart and heart vessels.
The scientists discovered that the caffeine boosts the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria, making them work more effectively and protecting cardiovascular cells from damage.
It was found that a concentration equivalent to the consumption of four cups was necessary for the movement of the protein into mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of the body’s cells. These cells use a protein known as p27 as fuel and the scientists discovered that caffeine increases the amount of p27 in the mitochondria of major types of heart cells.
It protects against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
Scientists at the Krembil Research Institute have found components other than caffeine in coffee that is beneficial to ward off cognitive decline.
The researchers in this study were aware that there’s a correlation between drinking coffee and a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, but they wanted to find out what components in it are responsible.
First, they found the same results in caffeinated and decaffeinated dark roast and concluded that coffee’s protective effect could not be due to caffeine.
Then they identified a group of compounds called phenylindanes. These compounds are the result of roasting coffee beans.
The longer they are roasted, the more phenylindanes emerge, so dark roasted coffee seems to be more protective than light roasted one.
A cup of coffee could replace an insulin jab for diabetics
How about this. You’re a diabetic and instead of injecting yourself with insulin, you drink a cup of coffee to regulate your blood sugar levels. That sounds like a much better deal, I’m sure you agree.
How might it work?
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have devised a plan to improve the quality of life of people who have to inject themselves with insulin on a daily basis. Their plan? To replace the jabs with implants!
Their research results were published in Nature Communications.
These implants would contain a myriad of designer cells which would deposit medicine as soon as they sense the presence of caffeine in the bloodstream.
Scientists inserted such implants under the skin of diabetic mice and administered caffeine-containing drinks like tea, coffee, and energy drinks to the mice.
The implant was triggered by the caffeine in the drinks and released a drug to control the animals’ blood sugar levels.
Could this be another health benefit of coffee?