We’re not talking about the inflammation caused by a killer workout, we mean the type of disease-causing inflammation that’s spurred and worsened by old age. Caffeine has an amazing influence on your immune system—so much in fact that nearly all the other health benefits below could be explained by its ability to fight and ward off disease (like type 2 diabetes and heart disease), according to research published in Nature Medicine. In short, caffeine blocks certain receptors on brain cells, which is how coffee has its stimulating “wake-up” effect. In impeding these receptors, caffeine also blocks pathways that product inflammatory molecules, the researchers found. So, as you age, don’t be wary of coffee. In this study, the older men and women who drank more caffeine had fewer inflammatory molecules; they also had lower blood pressure and more flexible arteries, more relatives who lived past age 90, and were healthier overall.
Yep, we went there. Drinking coffee typically makes you have to go to the bathroom because of its laxative effect. But how? In some studies, researchers have found coffee might stimulate the distal colon, which pushes waste out of your body quicker, and a 1990 study in the journal Gut found it only takes four minutes for coffee to start having an effect on your bathroom schedule.
“For example, prior studies have suggested that variants in CYP1A2, (a gene) encoding the enzyme responsible for more than 95 percent of caffeine metabolism, may alter associations of coffee drinking with cardiovascular-related outcomes, with slower caffeine metabolizers having higher risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) or having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) relative to their non-drinking counterparts, whereas faster caffeine metabolizers who drink coffee are at no or lower risk of these outcomes.”
Over the last several decades, coffee has been among the most heavily studied dietary components. And the news is mostly good. Moderate coffee consumption (three to four cups per day) has been linked with longer lifespan. In fact, a November 2015 study in Circulation found that coffee consumption was associated with an 8% to 15% reduction in the risk of death (with larger reductions among those with higher coffee consumption). Other studies have found that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of
“Absolutely not,” says Donald Hensrud, medical director of Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program. “You have to enjoy life, and if you enjoy tea, keep on enjoying it. It’s all good. There are health benefits to coffee, to black tea and to green tea.” But there can also be problems associated with higher doses of caffeine, he notes. The amount in more than two cups of coffee a day, for example, can interfere with conception and increase the risk of miscarriage. And, he says, because individuals metabolize caffeine at different rates, slow metabolizers may be more susceptible to side effects such as heartburn, insomnia, heart palpitations and irritability.
Diabetes is on the upswing in the United States: About 1.5 million people are diagnosed each year, according to the American Diabetes Association, and approximately 7.2 million people have the disease but don’t know it yet. But it's not all bad news. Researchers from Harvard University believe that drinking coffee—either decaf or regular—might help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, the most common form. According to the analysis, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, the more coffee people drink, the less likely they are to develop type 2 diabetes. (It is possible to overdo it, though. To keep insomnia, tummy troubles, and migraines at bay, health experts recommend drinking no more than four 8-ounce coffees daily.)
After one too many long nights at the office, it’s not uncommon to experience mental fatigue. In addition to getting your mental health back on track to make sure it doesn’t lead to more serious health problems, drink some coffee: A 2010 review in the journal Nutrition found caffeine can help decrease the exhaustion you’re feeling by perking your body up.
If you’ve hurt your liver from years of drinking, coffee could be the superhero you’ve been hoping for. In a 2016 review published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, researchers found drinking two cups of coffee a day had a 44 percent lower risk of ending up with liver cirrhosis. For more on healthy eating, here are a 20 Amazing Healing Foods.
Let's take a quick jog down memory lane about how the research behind the benefits of coffee has changed over the years: In 1991, the World Health Organization classified the beverage as a “possible carcinogen.” Then, in 2016, the organization found that there was “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.” And in between, most of the news about coffee was largely positive: That, instead of being harmful to your health, regular coffee consumption (in moderation, of course), is actually good for you.
Here’s why: Adding a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa (we’re talking the fermented seeds from the cacao tree) offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities that can help your body by lowering blood pressure, balancing cholesterol, and helping to manage type 2 diabetes. Think a homemade mocha with zero added sugar, although we think a little drizzle of maple syrup would be good in this too.
People who are caffeine sensitive should consider taking this article more lightly; the rise in coffee houses would like us to think coffee is not a ‘drug’, but for some like myself coffee isn’t good. Just one cup in the morning and I get heart palpitations when I try to sleep at night, also I have noticed it tends to make any PMT symptoms such as sore breasts worse. Much as I love a coffee, if I am out I have to view coffee as a ‘treat’, here in the UK I ask for ‘one shot’, this usually helps.
Need a little boost to get you through your HIIT workout? A 2013 study from PLoS One shows that athletes who consumed coffee an hour before exercise had greater performance than those who drank decaffeinated coffee. Plus, a 2015 study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that people who drink coffee before a workout burn more calories after exercise, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This means that even if your spin class is over, your body will continue to burn more calories. We’ll drink to that! ☕
Other studies have tried to pinpoint exactly what in caffeine is helping to halt the onset of these diseases. A 2014 study (14) found that caffeine blocks various tau receptors (a protein that contributes to brain cell degeneration). Another study found that caffeinated coffee increased GCSF (15) - a substance greatly decreased in Alzheimer’s patients - levels in the bloodstream.
Long term consumption of coffee has also been shown to reduce, although moderately, the risk of stroke (38). Another study pointed out that drinking about five or six cups of coffee a day is associated with the greatest reduction (39) (36%) in stroke risk, and that coffee also contributes to overall reduction of cardiovascular mortality (a less scary way of saying “heart death”).
So how much coffee is healthy, and how much is too much? Two to three eight-ounce cups per day is considered moderate; heavy coffee drinkers consume four cups or more daily. Remember, the amount of caffeine per coffee beverage varies depending upon the preparation and style of beverage. Eight ounces of brewed coffee may contain as little as 80 to as much as 200 mg of caffeine per cup (an “average” cup probably contains about 100 mg).
The thick creamy coconut milk is the healthiest option for coffee creamer because it's loaded with super healthy saturated fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known to boost your immune system and your metabolism! Plus, coconut milk in coffee is just plain delicious! It's the best healthy creamer option by far aside from just using real grass-fed dairy cream.
For the sake of something real journalists call “integrity” I should point out that coffee has also been shown to have a small, yet positive (which isn’t a good thing in this case) relationship with bladder (25) cancer. However, the same study that reported these finding, also reported that this relationship could also be linked to smoking or other dietary habits.
Do you remember the first time you had a cup of coffee? More likely than not, you were in college and cramming for a final and your roommate suggested brewing up a batch. It might have been love at first sip, or you could have stomached your way through it, hoping it’d help you ace your test. Either way, now that you’re older (and hopefully, wiser), Pearson says to make sure you actually like coffee or if you’re using it as a band-aid to your poor sleep habits. “Coffee is a pick-me-up, but working toward a normal sleep pattern will make life much better than caffeine. If you’re using coffee to survive on inadequate sleep, your body and mind are still tired and you’ll still not be at your best physically and mentally,” she explains. “Chronic inadequate sleep raises stress hormones and contributes to a lot of health problems.”
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There are more than 1,000 compounds in coffee, many of which likely harbor anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds, according to a recent BMJ research review. “The coffee bean itself has antioxidants in it, which help prevent free radical damage that could potentially lead to cancer,” explains Susan Oh, MPH, director of the nutrition research program at Johns Hopkins, who was not involved with the study.
Haendeler, who drinks six cups of coffee a day, says it can be part of a healthy lifestyle—but is no miracle cure. And she is quick to point out there are no shortcuts to good health. “If you hear about this study and decide to drink coffee but you do nothing else—no exercise, no proper diet—then, of course, this will not work,” she says. “You cannot simply decide, ‘Okay, I’m sitting here and drinking four, five or six cups of coffee and everything is fine.'”
5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle, as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression. We all know someone who tends to be tired, wired and over-caffeinated!
Here's what you should know: Collagen is the protein-rich connective material between tissue and bones (so, yup, veg-heads, you’ll have to sit this one out). It comes in a powder form, so you can stir it into pretty much anything to get a major protein boost that will help you kick-start your day. There’s also some preliminary evidence it can help keep your skin hydrated, improve alcohol-induced liver damage, and support joint health. Look for a brand that doesn't change the flavor, like Further Food Collagen Peptides, so you aren't scrunching up your nose at every sip.
Coconut milk is the perfect add-in if you’re lactose intolerant, cutting out dairy for dietary purposes (i.e. the Paleo diet), or just want a low-calorie milk substitute. Of course coconut milk adds a light coconut flavor to coffee and lightens up your brew, but it’s also closest in texture to whole milk. You can add vanilla extract to coconut milk to create a homemade, lower calorie creamer. Just be careful and use coconut milk sparingly as it still contains a fair amount of fat.
Cinnamon actually comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen called the Cinnamomum tree, and it has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any spice, according to research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It’s been known to reduce inflammation, help lower sugar and triglyceride levels in the blood, soothe nausea, and aid in fat burning. The antiviral and antibacterial properties in the spice are also said to boost your immune system (and ward off colds.) It’s also packed with manganese, iron, calcium.