When I ask people for their typical dietary intake, many people “shamefully” tell me that they drink coffee. It surprises them when I ask “what is wrong with that”? Coffee is a healthy addition to one’s diet because it can help the body regulate its immune inflammatory responses.
Studies have shown that coffee consumption reduces the risk of conditions such as diabetes, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, depression,and back and neck pain to mention a few.
Phytonutrients, plant compounds, other than caffeine, found in coffee, are reported to reduce blood sugar levels, and decrease the way the body stores carbohydrates and fats. Data from over 450,000 people found that every additional cup per day of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee lowers the risk of diabetes by 5 to 10%. Heavy consumers of coffee, 12 cups/day, have a 67% lower risk of getting diabetes. The effect is not due to the caffeine found in coffee, but to other compounds in coffee.
In Parkinson’s disease, caffeinated coffee may protect nerve cells from destruction, decrease the incidence of Parkinson’s, and the improve mobility of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. In the case of Parkinson’s, the caffeine in coffee is the “magic ingredient”, since decaffeinated coffee does not have the same affect. Women with Parkinson’s Disease, that were on hormonal replacement therapy, showed less benefit from coffee.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
As mentioned above, caffeine may help the body protect nerve cells. Consuming caffeinated coffee over a long period appears to decrease the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In other studies, although coffee may raise blood pressure for a brief time, after two months of daily coffee consumption, blood pressure is reduced. It also lowers the risk of heart disease and reduces stroke incidents.
Drinking one cup of coffee a day has been associated with a 42% lower risk of liver cancer. Women that drank two or more cups of coffee per day had a delayed onset of a hard-to-treat cancer. Individuals drinking three cups of coffee a day had a 40% lower risk of developing pharyngeal, esophageal, and oral cancers. Men who drank over six cups of caffeinated or non-caffeinated coffee a da,y had an 18% lower risk of prostate cancer, and a 40% lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Individuals that were heavy coffee drinkers had a 30% lower risk of colorectal cancer.
A study of over 50,000 women, found that 4 cups of coffee daily lowered their risk of depression by 20%.
Coffee and Pain Responses
Subjects who consume coffee while working at the computer, report less pain in their back and necks than those that abstain from drinking coffee
Inflammatory Responses and Coffee:
Regular coffee consumption affects the production of cytokines, such as IL-1 and IL-10 that regulate immune inflammatory responses. The data suggests that the benefits of coffee consumption are due to the phytonutrients, plant nutrients, and caffeine found in coffee. The adage that “coffee is not good for you”, should be re-examined.