Brew a Cup of Good Health – Coffee's Wide-Ranging Health Benefits

Health Alert 168

Coffee-lovers rejoice. That daily fix of java is more than a guilty pleasure; it’s good for your health. Recent scientific research suggests that drinking moderate amounts of coffee provides a wide range of health benefits that are as diverse as the flavors of the coffee bean.

Moderate coffee drinking can lower the risk of diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones, cirrhosis of the liver, and Parkinson’s disease. Other benefits include a reduction of asthma attacks, and depression. Some studies have indicated that coffee contains four times the amount of cancer-fighting anti-oxidants as green tea.

Today you will learn about the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption. And how you can improve your life through this widely consumed and beloved beverage.

Coffee Wards off Diseases

Coffee is a naturally occurring herbal stimulant. Drinking coffee increases metabolism, circulation, breaks up obstructions and warms the body. By stimulating areas in your body that are cold and inactive, you increase your energy level. This improves your memory for both mental and physical activities. And the increased energy level keeps you more alert. What’s more caffeine is quickly metabolized and excreted. On the main elements in coffee are xanthenes. Xanthenes raise your metabolic rate, suppress your appetite and enhance both physical and mental performance. They also act as muscle relaxants and process diuretic properties. All of these benefits work together to reduce the incidence of some severe health problems.

Coffee Lowers Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. A study conducted in Finland and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed a link between drinking coffee and type 2 diabetes. The researchers surveyed 6,974 men and found that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day decreased risk of type 2 diabetes by 27 percent. Drinking 10 cups, a day lowered the risk by 55 percent.1

The study did not prove definitely how coffee reduces the risk of diabetes so drastically. However, another study conducted recently at Harvard University also found the correlation between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of diabetes. Frank Hu, MD, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard speculates that the ingredients in coffee, aside from caffeine, protect against diabetes. Coffee contains antioxidants and minerals like magnesium that are beneficial for blood sugar metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Another possibility that is that in the long term, caffeine may be beneficial for maintenance of body weight because caffeine can actually increase energy expenditure and basal metabolic rates.2

Coffee Lessons Likelihood of Parkinson’s disease. At least six studies indicated that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s. In fact, the newest Parkinson’s drugs contain a derivative of caffeine.3

Coffee Reduces Your Risk of Colon Cancer. Coffee has a protective effect against colon cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second highest cause of cancer related deaths in the USA. A recent study from the European Journal of Cancer Prevention showed that colorectal cancer was 24% lower among those who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day than those who seldom drink coffee.4

The most likely reason for a lower risk of colorectal cancer in those who drink coffee is that they experience enhanced colonic activity induced by coffee. Scientists also speculate that anti-mutagenic components in coffee and caffeine inhibit the cancer causing effect of various microorganisms.

Coffee Reduces Your Risk of Stone Formation. Researchers from Harvard University headed a study that monitored the coffee drinking habits and incidence of gallstones in 46,000 healthy men over a ten-year period. They found that those drinking one cup a day had a 13% risk reduction of gallstone disease. Those drinking two to three cups a day had a 21% risk reduction and those drinking four or more cups a day had a 33% risk reduction of gallstone disease. So the more you drink, the lower the risk.5

Coffee Helps Asthmatics. The caffeine and other chemicals in coffee help moderate asthma attacks. The caffeine in coffee acts as a natural bronchodilator. The chemical theophyline exists naturally in coffee. For years, theophyline was the primary pharmaceutical weapon in the battle against asthma. Three or more cups of coffee per day help can relieve the symptoms of asthma.

Coffee Alleviates Headaches.

Coffee Elevates Your Mood and Reduces Depression.

The Bottom Line

Drinking coffee has always been a controversial subject. Yet, study after study has shown that it is not a risk factor in the development of heart disease. It doesn’t elevate blood pressure or make you more hypertensive. Caffeine doesn’t make your blood cholesterol rise or increase your risk of stroke. Plainly, moderate coffee drinking is not a health threat.

The key to receiving all of the benefits of coffee is to drink it in moderation. 3 to 4 cups a day is more than sufficient. Avoid drinking coffee in confined spaces and drinking it too close to bedtime. Stay away from fancy flavors. The fufu drinks are laden with calories. Don’t load your java with refined sugar. Try to buy organic coffees that are pesticide free. Enhance your coffee with organic milk. The freshness of your coffee is essential. Its healing properties are strongest when its freshly brewed. Mostly, savor the flavor and enjoy.

Al Sears, MD

1. Jaakko Tuomilehto, MD, PhD; Gang Hu, MD, PhD; Siamak Bidel, MD; Jaana Lindström, MSc; Pekka Jousilahti, MD, PhD. Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Among Middle-aged Finnish Men and Women Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 291, Num. 10, March 10 2004

2. Christine Haran, Wake Up to the Good News About Coffee, March 23, 2004

3. Brunilda Nazario, MD. Coffee the New Health Food? April 12, 2004

4. European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 2002; 11: 137-145. “Coffee and tea consumption and cancers of the bladder, colon and rectum”

5. Michael F. Leitzmann, MD; Walter C. Willett, MD; Eric B. Rimm, ScD; Meir J. Stampfer, MD; Donna Spiegelman, ScD; Graham A. Colditz, MD; Edward Giovannucci, MD A Prospective Study of Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Symptomatic Gallstone Disease in Men Journal of the American Medical Association 1999;281:2106-2112.