It’s daylight savings time again. Time to wake up earlier. I am tea drinker myself. A warm or cold cup of Chai is a daily ritual. I used to quietly, and sometimes publicly judge my husband for his desire for a cup of coffee, even on days that he didn’t have to work. Apart from the migraine prevention he reasoned, he actually liked it. Who likes black coffee? Well to, those of you who do, I have learned to admit when I’m wrong. If Mandy Moore’s character on This Is Us can do it, so can I (Rebecca was so wrong with Randall and William, but she admitted it last week). There are actually many health benefits of coffee, many that you may not know about. Every good has a bad though, every yin a yang, every Chance, a Mary Mitchell.
- Diabetes: “Coffee consumption was inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes in a dose-response manner. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee was associated with reduced diabetes risk.” That means that the more coffee a person in this study drank, the lower their risk was of developing type 2 diabetes. They studied 1-6 cups and compared their outcomes with those who did not consume coffee. ¹
- Liver Cancer: Those who drank 2-3 and sometimes 4 cups of coffee per day had a statistically significant reduction in death from liver cancer and chronic liver disease. The reduction of death from both were anywhere from 40-70% depending on which disease and number of cups consumed.²
- Breast Cancer: Higher caffeinated coffee intake may be associated with lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Decaffeinated coffee intake did not seem to have the same association.³
- Total Mortality: Higher consumption of total coffee, caffeinated coffee, and decaffeinated coffee was associated with lower risk of total mortality. To quote the study directly, “Regular consumption of coffee was inversely associated with risk of total mortality and mortality attributed to CVD [cardiovascular disease] and neurologic disease. Similar associations of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption with risk of total and cause-specific mortality were found. Results from this and previous studies indicate that coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.”ª
- Hypertension is not necessarily worsened by caffeine. This is a common misconception but the data shows “caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and caffeine are not risk factors for hypertension in postmenopausal women.”†
And now to coffee’s down side:
- Pregnancy: Less is more in pregnancy. 200 mg is max before known side effects can occur, but decreasing or eliminating caffeine is definitely the goal. 200 mg, by the way, translates to about two 8-ounce cups of regular coffee.
- Migraines- A two-edged sword. The breakdown is very clear from headaches.org. Before a headache or migraine, blood vessels tend to enlarge. Because it contains “vasoconstrictive” properties that cause the blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow, caffeine can aid in head pain relief. A caffeine rebound headache occurs from withdrawal of caffeine after a sufferer continually consumes too much of the substance. Talk about too much of a good thing…
- Breast tenderness: Caffeine consumption can contribute to painful breasts in peri- and postmenopausal women. Decreased coffee, and chocolate (sorry) consumption can often help.
- Calories: So far, we have been talking about black coffee, but heavily sweetened lattes and that 500 calorie McDonald’s Frappe are not benefiting anyone’s health. That’s like eating celery dipped in a super fattening high-calorie cream cheese-based dip. Delicious? Yes. Healthy? No.
- Cost: You know your budget better than I. If you can afford 5 dollars a day, for a cup of Joe, do it. If you need to brew at home to make it affordable, do that. Remember, the environmental lover in me still wants you to bring your reusable cup to your coffee house of choice. Save a cup, save the earth.
This months issue of OBG Management, a reputable medical journal, cited coffee post-surgery as beneficial. There is a good amount of fiber in coffee and intestinal stimulation related to its consumption. Following abdominal surgery, passing flatus (gas, farts, whatever you want to call it) is extremely important in the healing process. You know how you feel in that afternoon way-too-long meeting when you know you shouldn’t have had that black bean burrito for lunch no matter how delicious it was? Add the pain of abdominal surgery to that feeling and you’ll have an idea why passing gas is so important medically. Our intestines continue to make gas, but after surgery it is sometimes difficult and painful initially to get it out. A cup of Joe can help.
Cheers and top of the morning to you all!
¹ Caffeinated and Decaffeinated Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and a Dose-Response Meta-analysis. Diabetes Care 2014;37:569–586
²Association of Coffee Intake With Reduced Incidence of Liver Cancer and Death From Chronic Liver Disease in the US Multiethnic Cohort. Gastroenterology 2015;148:118–125
³Coffee and tea consumption and risk of pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study. Bhoo-Pathy et al. Breast Cancer Research (2015) 17:15
ªAssociation of Coffee Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in 3 Large Prospective Cohorts. Circulation 2015 Dec 15; 132 (24) : 2305-15.
†Coffee and caffeine consumption and the risk of hypertension in postmenopausal women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2016 Jan; 103 (1) : 210-7.