You’ve no doubt heard or had someone tell you that drinking coffee is bad for your health… but is that actually true? These days, the number of people that drink coffee far outweighs the number of people who don’t. Coffee and tea are the most consumed caffeine-containing beverage in the world. Annually, Australian’s consume around 2kg of coffee per person on average (and 6 million coffee pods daily, but that's another story)!
Coffee (in moderation) actually provides a lot of health benefits! We all know that coffee acts as a ‘pick me up’ or morning energy booster, but let’s have a look at some of the more unknown benefits:
1. Helps you live longer
Moderate coffee consumption has been linked with having a longer lifespan. The consumption of coffee was associated with an 8% to 15% reduction in the risk of death. Studies have shown that long term consumption of coffee may protect against chronic diseases and inflammation.
2. Lowers your risk of chronic illness
Coffee intake has also been linked to a decreased risk of developing chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack and stroke), type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease (such as cirrhosis and fatty liver disease). This may be the reason that it can increase your lifespan!
3. Full of antioxidants and reduces inflammation
Antioxidants are beneficial compounds that help reduce oxidative stress and damage within the body. Chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid are the key antioxidants within coffee, and are responsible for most of it’s benefits. Coffee also promotes antioxidant activity through an increase in glutathione (also known as your master antioxidant) levels. After drinking coffee, a decrease in your ‘inflammatory markers’ is also seen, indicating that it can reduce inflammation levels.
4. Changes your gut microbiota
Coffee changes both the structure and function of your gut microbiota (aka your gut bugs). It increases bifidobacteria in your gut, which has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects. It also modifies the bacteria ratio in favour of a more anti-obese microbiota profile, possibly leading to weight loss.
5. Supports liver health
Coffee acts as a hepatoprotective, which translates to ‘liver protector’. It may reduce the risk of developing liver cancer and may reduce the ability of the hepatitis C virus to replicate, slowing its disease progression. Further studies indicate that coffee consumption reduces fat accumulation and collagen deposition in the liver, which may lead to a reduction in fatty liver disease.
6. Balances your blood sugar levels
Coffee has been shown to decrease your risk of developing metabolic conditions. This may be due to its ability to increase your sensitivity to insulin (which regulates your blood sugar levels) and slow the appearance and absorption rate of glucose (sugar) in your blood after consuming sugars or carbohydrates from food.
7. Decreases ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and supports heart health
Coffee’s antioxidant effect also comes into play to support your cardiovascular health. It has been shown to reduce your low-density lipoprotein’s (LDL’s), also known as your ‘bad cholesterol’, which reduces your risk of atherosclerosis. Coffee intake has also been shown to reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
8. Makes your feel good and alert
Coffee acts to block adenosine receptors within the brain, which results in the release of predominately excitatory neurotransmitters such as dopamine. This leads to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Coffee also increases blood flow to the brain, which increases alertness and cognitive function. Overall, the evidence indicates that coffee has a heck of a lot of health benefits!
More research is needed to further support some of these findings, but it is certainly looking promising for coffee drinkers.
*Those who find they are sensitive to coffee, or suffer from anxiety, should limit their intake of coffee. Women suffering from oestrogen dominant symptoms (heavy periods, PMS, tender breasts ect.) may benefit from a reduction in coffee intake in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle.
Teah Baker is a women’s health and wellbeing Naturopath (BHSc) and the founder of Tiny House Herbals. She is determined to help educate women about how their bodies work and empower them to reclaim their health. When she isn’t helping her clients, you will likely find Teah outside in her garden or mixing up some kind of botanical concoction.