Don’t Skimp on the Coffee for Health Reasons!

February 6, 2015

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There’s a lot of good in that morning cup

Despite how badly many of us need coffee each morning, we all tend to think of coffee as a luxury, not an actual necessity. After all, plenty of people don’t drink coffee and get along with their lives just fine.

But it’s looking more and more like many of us actually benefit from our daily consumption of coffee, and not just because it gives us energy. A study, using following self-reporting nurses, has found that both caffeinated and decaf coffee have a positive long term effect on health. It’s likely to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s recently been shown to contribute to brain health and elasticity, slowing and reducing the processes that contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Heart failure seems to be less likely if people drink coffee on a regular basis. And caf-feine seems to be an effective pain reliever or reducer.

These physical benefits have been shown in a variety of carefully conducted studies, and more are on the way. Psychological effects were also noted, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone who enjoys their coffee throughout the day. Nurses in the study mentioned above actually reported fewer cases of depression as well as increased moments of positivity.

Is it the Caffeine?

Surprisingly, it’s not just caffeine that seems to have these effects. A study in Japan compared results between drinking coffee and green tea to the effect on metabolic syndrome and the cof-fee drinkers faired much better. And from the nurse study, researchers found that drinking decaf lead to the same benefits in women and even bigger benefits for men. There might be something in coffee that we don’t yet understand, but we’re getting closer. Antioxidant content is a likely factor, as are quinines, plant phenols, and chlorogenic acids. But the truth is that we’re not yet sure why coffee drinkers see the wide array of health benefits that have been found in a vast variety of studies.

How Much is Enough?

Even if regular coffee drinking is a good thing, that doesn’t mean you should lose sleep over it. There’s no exact amount of coffee that seems to be good for everyone, although over six cups a day, for people who found that possible, still isn’t too much. In fact, the biggest benefits detected in a study on coffee’s effect on cancer was for people who drank six cups or more per day. In other words, people who drank six or more cups of coffee per day were found to be the least likely to have cancer within their study cohort.

But There Must Be Some Risks

The recent news and released studies about coffee make it seem like a miracle cure. Coffee is still not that. As with anything, moderation and individual conditions should be taken into account. If you don’t drink coffee, it’s not recommended that you start. There are some links between drinking coffee and developing glaucoma. Certain patients with other conditions and diseases may respond badly to coffee drinking. The personal history of each person should be tak-en into account before you start downing coffee.

The associations between positive health outcomes are good news for people who do like to drink coffee. So it’s time to stop feeling guilty about enjoying coffee and just remember to do so in a way that feels health for you. Drink less if you don’t sleep well. And all the associated benefits also went hand in hand with healthy lifestyle choices like regular physical activity and a healthy diet. Coffee isn’t going to fix other bad habits. Well, except that it’s been associated with better control among participants in Alcoholics Anonymous who managed to stay sober.

(image credit: Ryu1chi Miwa / CC2.0)

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