The Many Benefits of Drinking Coffee
Human consumption of coffee is said to go as far back as the 13th century. The most common tale involves an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi, who discovered that his goats would become lively long into the night after eating the berries of the coffee plant.
Today, coffee is grown all over the world and consumed by millions on a daily basis. It is part of our daily routine and, despite the recession, world coffee exports increased 5.2% in June 2012 compared to June 2011! Much of this increase, I think, can be attributed to the growing knowledge among consumers of the vast health benefits associated with drinking coffee. I call it a natural adaptogen!
Most likely, the health benefits of drinking coffee are due to its caffeine content. Caffeine is a plant-based alkaloid and naturally occurring stimulant. Many studies have been released over the years showing how caffeine influences several body processes – it has antioxidant effects, helps regulate insulin, and may lower inflammation!
The Many Benefits
- Benefits your Liver: Caffeine protects the liver from toxins, including alcohol. Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of liver damage and reduce the risk of cirrhosis in those who are high risk for the disease. Coffee drinkers are less likely to have indications of liver damage, such as elevated serum enzymes.
When we consume caffeine, our liver releases enzymes to metabolize it. When this happens, the liver’s ability to uptake sugar becomes temporarily impaired. This is a good thing! The short term effects of caffeine ingestion is decrease in liver glycogen stores. A recent study in the Journal of Agriculture, Food & Chemistry found that coffee had an anti-diabetic effect on mice, improving fatty liver and suppressing hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Coffee contains high concentrations of antioxidants, niacin (Vitamin B3), magnesium, and thiamin (Vitamin B1), as well as the beta cells, which may explain why coffee drinkers statistically have less diabetes. Recent studies on diabetics show that health benefits appear to increase with the cups of coffee drank per day.
- Benefits your hormones: According to Ray Peat, women have been observed to drink more coffee premenstrually. This is a great example of a natural and rational form of self-medication. The body knows what it wants. Caffeine can help maintain production of thyroid and progesterone and compensate for any deficiencies. Drinking caffeinated can also increase the levels of progesterone in the blood and brain!
- Benefits your skin: Drinking at least three cups of coffee every day has been shown to protect against the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma. Coffee-drinking men were 10 percent less likely to develop skin cancer than those who drank less than one cup of caffeinated coffee per month. Among women, this risk reduction was 21 percent!
- Benefits your brain: The caffeine in coffee protects against Alzheimer’s disease. A study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease measured blood caffeine levels of patients over a 2-4 year period and found that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed-onset Alzheimer’s, particularly for those who already have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Patients with MCI may be able to avoid, or delay, developing dementia by drinking several cups of coffee a day!
Many of the studies of caffeine suggest that the amount of coffee needed is between 3 and 5 cups daily, or a target of 500mg of caffeine. These studies specifically examined the benefits of caffeine from coffee, not from artificial sources such as pills or energy drinks.
I drink my coffee with plenty of milk, sugar and sometimes a teaspoon of gelatin. I also love to make coffee ice cream and occasionally coffee “jello.” My friends know I love my coffee! Make sure you are drinking a good organic roast and be careful when you buy coffee out. You want to make sure the beans were not sprayed with pesticides. I also recommend you drink coffee when you eat meat as it blocks the body’s uptake of iron. However, I feel that too much caffeine could sometimes turn on the stress hormones ( in some people) and that is not good. So pay attention to how you feel. Everyone is different. Even too much of a good thing can for some people be problematic.