Coffee. I’ve been an addict since I was 14 years old. At this point I can’t tell if it is the caffeine, smell, taste, or ritual that keeps bringing me back. Probably all of the above. Both of my parents gave me good examples of how coffee should be enjoyed. Not rushing out the door running late to work, not stopping at McDonalds for a large cup of brown water, but taking the time to make it and start the day off (or end it) with people you care about. The ritual of making it and sitting in the morning talking to my wife, or dog if she’s asleep, is enough reason to have me at the grinder every morning, regardless of its possible health benefits. An estimated 54 percent of adults would agree with me. Here are some reasons to justify that habit.
1.Caffeine Offers Neuroprotective Benefits
Caffeine in general has been shown to offer broad neuroprotective benefits. Coffee just happens to be a solid whole food source of caffeine that brings along with it over 1000 other compounds that may contribute some neuroprotection. Caffeine has gotten the most research.
Caffeine has been researched in the context of how it affects our central nervous system (CNS). Many functions in the CNS are controlled by our microglia cells. When these cells are overstimulated by the adenosine receptor A2, they release compounds that cause inflammation of the CNS. This inflammation is seen as a harbinger of such diseases as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. Caffeine has been shown to suppress adenosine receptor activity, thereby decreasing our microglia cell activity.
This in turn reduces inflammation of our Central Nervous System and could prove to be a valuable therapy and preventative for neurodegenerative disease. That coffee is an investment in your noggin!
2. Coffee May Lower Your Risk Of Cancer
Many large epidemiological studies have shown an inverse relationship between all sites of cancer and coffee consumption. The JCA (Japanese Cancer Association) performed an observational study on 100,629 adults. They found even when adjusting for adverse lifestyle habits, coffee had a net positive when it came to the rate of cancer occurrence. This could be due to several mechanisms.
- Coffee has large amounts of Chlorogenic acid. In this study, Chlorogenic Acid was shown to induce apoptosis (cell death) in leukemia cells. Coffee is most adults main source of Chlorogenic Acid.
- In a study of 730 healthy women and 663 diabetic women, coffee reduced markers of inflammation,. Cancer is now being linked to chronic inflammation.
- In a study looking at antioxidant absorption with different foods, coffee contributed more antioxidant activity than fruit, tea, wine, vegetables, and grains. Antioxidants are key in battling oxidative stress, which when chronic can become another cause of inflammatory diseases like cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
3. Coffee Improves Fat Burning
Specifically, coffee increase the process know as lipolysis. This is the process in which free fatty acids are released from our stored body fat and used as energy. This is also a reason that we get an energy boost from coffee. It actually helps liberate our own stored energy!
Coffee has been linked to a lower rate of type 2 diabetes, a preventable weight based disease. What people often point out is that coffee has been shown to have a negative affect on insulin sensitivity. This is how well we respond to when our pancreas sends insulin to ferry glucose out of the blood and into our muscles (or into fat cells when muscle glycogen is full). When we are not insulin sensitive, our body needs more and more insulin to lower blood sugar levels, eventually resulting in type 2 diabetes. So why would coffee be associated with lower rates of diabetes when it makes us less insulin sensitive? We need to go back to lipolysis. The release of free fatty acids actually causes a temporary, but not permanent decrease in insulin sensitivity. This is necessary for us to burn the free fatty acids as energy.
The more I find out about coffee the more I think of it as an essential health supplement more than a vice I have. The benefits are too numerous to list in this small post, so it will definitely be a topic I return to with some frequency. It’s great when we find out that little things added to a daily regime can bring with it both big gains in health and a pleasurable experience. This is a trend we will notice with many foods and practices….. to be continued.