Coffee: Good or Bad?
Coffee has long since been regarded as a relative pariah in the health and nutrition world. Newer research, however, suggests that your morning Americano may have some hidden health benefits.
Traditional roasted coffee has over 1,000 bioactive compounds, many of which contain therapeutic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fibrotic, and anti-carcinogenic effects. In fact, most Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. It has also been found that an individual’s genotype and gut microbiome determine the bioavailability and type of coffee metabolites the body is able to use which include caffeine, chlorogenic acids, and the diterpenes, cafestol, and kahweol.
Over the past decade, evidence has linked coffee to numerous health benefits. One more recent development is coffee’s positive effect on liver enzymes and the occurrence and recovery from liver diseases. In one study, 59 cases of liver cirrhosis related to alcohol were diagnosed and subjects who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had 80% less chance of developing liver cirrhosis than non- coffee drinkers. In a second study on the same group, it was also reported that coffee drinkers had 23% less chance of dying from liver cirrhosis than non-coffee drinkers. One thing worth noting, however, is while the studies accounted for alcohol consumption, none of them accounted for other cirrhosis risk factors like obesity and diabetes.
In another case-controlled study on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients, it was found that a lifetime of coffee consumption, at an average of 3 cups per day, was negatively associated with the development of this type of cancer at a rate of over 50%.
While research is still unclear on which of the many compounds found in coffee is responsible for its positive effect on the liver, one theory is regarding the metabolite paraxanthine found in caffeine which has been seen to defeat the synthesis of the connective tissue growth factor (CGTF). This mechanism has the potential to slow the progress of the liver fibrosis, liver cancer, and alcoholic cirrhosis. Coffee’s two natural compounds, cafestol and kahweol, are also thought to be those that possess anti-carcinogenic properties.
Another interesting finding regarding moderate coffee consumption is the increase in plasma glutathione. Glutathione is known as one of the most important antioxidants found in the body which plays an important role in cellular defense against oxidative damage. The increase in glutathione levels brought on by drinking coffee may be the mechanism responsible for its rejuvenating effects on the liver.
So, ready to give coffee another try? Here are a few tips on how best to incorporate coffee into your routine:
- Coffee is best consumed before 2 pm, this will stop caffeine from interfering with sleep patterns which can alter health benefits.
- Try to get used to drinking your coffee black or add unsweetened nut milk. MCT oil can also be added to coffee and blended for a “latte” like feel. Regardless of how you choose to take it, make sure your coffee is free of added sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Choose a well-sourced coffee, preferably organic, to cut down on added toxins that may negate health benefits. Purity coffee is a great option due to their rigorous purity standards. Thrive Market and Bulletproof coffees are additional high-quality options.
- Because caffeine is a diuretic and can throw off electrolyte balance, aim for no more than 1-2 cups per day for maximum benefits.
Who should avoid coffee?
- Those suffering from GI complaints or problems with gut lining integrity. Coffee is a gut irritant due to its acidity and may hinder gut healing. Caffeine can also loosen the lower esophageal sphincter which can lead to symptoms of acid reflux.
- Individuals with histamine intolerance. The caffeine found in coffee results in the body releasing more glutamate which then stimulates the release of histamine. Mycotoxins such as Ochratoxin A and Aflatoxin can also be found in many commercial coffee’s which can add to histamine-related symptoms.
- Individuals with anxiety and trouble with sleep. Caffeine has a stimulating effect and has been shown in studies to increase symptoms of anxiety and alter cortisol response. Caffeine is also cleared from the body at different rates based on many factors including genetics. Because of this, people who suffer from sleep disturbances, stress or anxiety, should not drink caffeinated coffee.