For decades every other health headline has been devoted to coffee. Thumbing through issues at the newsstand, one magazine will boast coffee as a magical healing elixir, while the next bashes the beans as poison. Much like Bitcoin, its value is ever fluctuating. Americans consume 146 billion cups of Joe each year. Since it’s practically coursing through our veins and thus worth investigating.
I skipped the newsstand’s flip-flopping and instead researched actual peer-reviewed scientific journals. My thorough investigation on this mysterious, centuries-old beverage yielded a bounty of health benefits. So, is coffee good for you? Turns out the answer isn’t black or white, no matter how much cream you add or leave out.
Here’s what science is saying:
We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” There’s a valid reason why we say this. Coffee is a psycho-stimulant that releases adrenaline, boosting energy, psychomotor performance, brain function, and mood. Yet it has an even deeper significance than providing your morning jolt. A longitudinal study found a decreased development of depression with an increased coffee intake. One may argue that this can be due to the caffeine and not the coffee itself, yet the study found no significant correlation between depression and other sources of caffeine such as tea, soda, and chocolate.
Sixteen million American adults are affected by depression in a year, and as the number continues to rise, mental health is at the forefront. It’s worth noting that only low to moderate doses of coffee yield this benefit and coffee should not replace the use of anti-depressants. Furthermore, anxiety is related to depression and as coffee is a psycho-stimulant, it may aggravate pre-existing anxiety.
It’s no shock that weight loss is always on our minds as over two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese. Coffee’s weight control effect is mainly due to its adrenaline release into the bloodstream, causing the break down of fat cells to be used as energy. This process not only boosts energy and improves physical exercise performance, it also burns fat cells and speeds up metabolism — both major contributors to weight loss.
Moreover, coffee has been shown to lend a significant amount of dietary fiber intake. A sh*t load of fiber (yes I went there) aids weight control as fiber plays a huge role in fullness factor, meaning we can feel full while eating less. While coffee can help with weight loss, it’s by no means a miracle button. The benefits can only reach a certain point, so don’t guzzle down the java to fit into your skinny jeans.
According to the CDC, nearly four million American adults suffer from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, which are excruciatingly painful and difficult to treat. A large, nationally representative study found decreased abnormal liver enzyme levels, which are markers of liver disease and damage, with intake of two plus cups of coffee per day. This inverse relationship can be evidence of coffee’s liver protective effect. Also of note in this study is that this significant correlation occurred with both regular and decaffeinated coffee, leading us to believe that the coffee compounds themselves and not just the caffeine are responsible.
It’s important to remember that coffee is not an antidote to liver damage and will not counteract the damaging effects of alcohol. You can’t balance out booze with bean juice.
The number of Americans who develop type-two diabetes mellitus (DM2) increases at a staggering rate each year according to the CDC. This booming prevalence is largely due to the growing waistlines of Americans as overweight or obesity can cause insulin insensitivity, damaging the ability to control blood sugar, causing DM2. Medical researchers have recognized DM2 as a health threat and have devoted numerous studies to examine prevention.
One study found that increased daily consumption of both regular and decaf coffee correlated with the decreased development of DM2. The study explained that this correlation may be due to coffee’s mineral components: magnesium and chromium. Both minerals help the body utilize insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar, possibly preventing the inability to control blood sugar, and thus aiding DM2 prevention. The study also examined cafestol and caffeic acid, two of coffee’s compounds, which increase the cells’ blood sugar intake and increase insulin secretions. Since cafestol and caffeic acid aid systems related to DM2, they can help prevent it. However, while coffee may help prevent, it is not a cure for or magic shield from DM2. A healthy lifestyle is the best form of prevention and coffee should not replace medication.
There are important considerations when reviewing this information. Although these are all peer-reviewed scientific journal studies, the utmost source of viable information, remember that while they found statistically significant correlations, correlation does not imply causation. The relationship may not exist solely between coffee and the aforementioned medical conditions. There can be unknown factors that confound the results. There’s evidence suggesting coffee’s health benefits, but more research still has to be done. The results of these studies merely show us that it can’t harm us- unless you are pregnant or a medical doctor has advised against it.
The best piece of advice? Everything in moderation. It always come down to that, doesn’t it? Enjoy your morning coffee, friends.