For a long time my advice on coffee in the diet was cut it out, especially if you were aiming to be healthy and lose weight. From the general addicting nature of the caffeine and the dehydration links I had been repeatedly told on courses, in magazines and in my own research. However, more recently I have been looking into health and more specifically the impact of certain foods and drinks on health and I was just as surprised as many of you when I discovered that coffee has been getting a bad wrap for years and it really shouldn’t.
So what are the health benefits of coffee?
Coffee and the health of your gut microbiome: This point was originally brought to my attention whilst reading Dr David Perlmutter’s book Brain Maker. (see the library of strength page). Having a health microbiome in your gut is essential to your health fir a number of reasons, from reducing the risk of developing cronic illnesses such as Chrons or Colitis, gastro-intestinal issues and many other illnesses besides. The health and diversity of the bacteria present in your guts and intestines therefore is of vital importance when it comes to maintaining and optimizing your health. Multiple studies have shown that coffee consumption can increase the levels of bifidobacteria in your gut, known for their beneficial impact on your health. Furthermore the fibre contained in the coffee was a particular favourite food source for many of these so called good bacteria living in our gut and so further helped to improve the diversity and populations of such bacteria in our gut biome.
Coffee can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in elderly patients. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease which followed over 1400 individuals for around 21 years on average showed that regular coffee and tea drinkers experienced a 65% decrease in their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease with only 48 individuals developing Alzheimer’s symptoms. They drank on average 3-5 cups of coffee or tea daily throughout the study and this impact has been linked to a specific and powerful upregulator. Nrf2. This is heavily linked with the activation of gene pathways to both reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant protection. Thus both reducing oxidative stress and preventing further damage from oxidation and inflammation. Both of which have been clearly linked with causing Alzheimer’s onset.
Coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from depression. A study published in The Archives of internal Medicine following 86,000 female nurses over a period of 10 years found that women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee daily were 20% less likely to suffer from depression. With even women who only drank 1 cup a day experiencing reductions in their risk of developing depression by around 10% on average.
Coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of heart disease. In their article titled: Coffee consumption and coronary artery calcium in young and middle-aged asymptomatic adults. Korean researchers showed that people who consumed between 3-5 cups of coffee per day were less likely to display warning signs of the onset of coronary heart disease. Drinking 3 cups showed up to a drop of 20% in the risk of developing heart disease with 4-5 cups showing around 10-15% reductions on average. Although it is important to note that the study included a wide range of ages, and diets with many participants being smokers or consuming large amounts of red meat which will also impact results.
Drinking Black coffee can prevent cavities in your teeth forming. Research teams in Brazil found that consuming an average of 3 cups of black roasted coffee daily would significantly reduce your risk of developing dental cavities. Strong coffee can kill the bacteria in your mouth associated with cavity development and thus prevent them from doing damage to your teeth. It is important to note however that adding cream, milk or sugar completely cancelled out the effects.
Coffee can reduce your risk of developing Colorectal Cancer. Coffee can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A study carried out by Dr. Frank Hu and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that your risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by 9% with each daily cup of coffee consumed. However it should be noted that this could also be controlled and prevented through reducing sugar and gluten in the diet and being more active. But still it is another great benefit of coffee.
Coffee is also a very powerful Anti Oxidant. A typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than blueberries, oranges and grapefruit and it is these anti oxidants that reduce the damage of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body that makes it such an efficient combatant for diseases like heart disease, IBS, Alzheimer’s and such.
Caffeine or Decaf?
Whilst there are some benefits to decaf an certain life stages such as pregnancy that ill require you to reduce your caffeine intake most of the studies on coffee show that caffeinated coffee had more significant impacts on your health than using decaf. If you are worried about the dehydrating effect of coffee then it is easily rectified by consuming the healthy and recommended amount of 3-4 litres of water per day, not including your teas, coffees and such.