Coffee is a hugely popular beverage around the world, and many people are very attached to their daily cups of ebony magic.
Not surprisingly, there’s been a lot of research conducted on coffee in the past few decades and plenty of reasons have been found for you to continue drinking coffee.
Potential benefits may include a reduction in cancer risk, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.
I’ll confess that I’m not really a coffee drinker. Although I love the smell and partake in the occasional Frappuccino, I suffer from acid reflux issues. Coffee makes my stomach issues worse.
That doesn’t stop me from recommending coffee to clients who enjoy it.
Here’s Why Coffee Can Be A Healthy Choice:
Breast Cancer Risk
Total coffee intake has been found in research to provide a borderline statistically significant lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
This result wasn’t found for premenopausal breast cancer.
There was NO increased risk of breast cancer related to coffee intake.
Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have been shown, in a large meta-analysis (study of studies), to be associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Higher doses (5-6 cups a day) were associated with a greater decrease in the risk of diabetes. So drinking more coffee was even more likely to reduce diabetes risk than smaller amounts, or none.
Risk of Death
Caffeinated coffee was inversely associated with all-cause mortality in a 2013 study.
The strongest protection from death appeared to come from those who drank 4 or more cups of coffee a day.
This study was interesting because it used a multiethnic (black, white & Hispanic) urban population. The effects were slightly different between races.
Our genetic backgrounds influence how our bodies respond to different food and drink.
And all ethnicities in the study benefited from reduced death rates by drinking coffee.
Why Is Coffee Helpful?
It’s hard to say what part of the coffee is causing the positive health outcomes, although scientists have their theories.
The ritual of having a cup of coffee reduces stress.
Stress can trigger or exacerbate numerous health conditions.
Perhaps coffee drinkers are more sociable?
People with more close social contacts have better health outcomes overall.
Maybe the polyphenols (which are antioxidants) in coffee reduce the risk of certain diseases?
Or maybe some other, as-yet-undiscovered, plant compound is responsible for the health benefits.
There are many possible explanations, but unless you’re a scientist looking for the cause I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Coffee has benefits…we’re not sure exactly why.
Something to Think About
While there appear to be some potential benefits to drinking coffee, you need to decide what’s right for you based on other lifestyle factors.
Research studies try to isolate coffee from other factors in a person’s life.
It’s not always possible to do effectively.
Coffee won’t be a magical saviour if the rest of your diet is full of junk food and you never exercise.
If you have a couple of cups of coffee in the morning and prior to a workout for an extra “boost”, you’re probably using it wisely.
If you’re so tired that you need five or six cups of coffee to get you through the day, you need to cut back.
You’ll want to look at your lifestyle (sleep, stress) and see if there’s something going wrong there.
Hint: there is.
The Bottom Line
Your body won’t be healthy drinking coffee unless you take care of other issues, no matter what the research says about potential health benefits.
No food or drink can be taken in isolation from the rest of your lifestyle and individual needs.
That’s why I don’t drink coffee, despite many apparent health benefits.
So if you’re running around wired on six cups of coffee a day, don’t convince yourself that you’re using your fix to prevent any disease.
If you enjoy your coffee in reasonable doses then keep it up.
You may be doing your health some good.