Coffee makes you healthier

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Coffee is one of the best-selling commodities on our planet. The daily cup of coffee, especially as a pick-me-up in the morning, is a staple part of people’s morning routines. Coffee or better still, caffeine  tastes rather bitter and punchy. If you are a coffee connoisseur you can easily taste the difference between regular coffee and decaf. We will see in this article, that there are plenty of health benefits linked to coffee, regardless of the caffeine content but also that there are good reasons to use caffeine to your benefit.
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Let’s dive into the matter. Research suggests a positive impact on several chronic diseases, including the spreading problem of type 2 diabetes mellitus and liver disease. But even decaf has been shown to have positive health benefits. This lead researchers to assume that other compounds in the coffee, besides caffeine, must have positive health benefits. My best guess would be the polyphenols in the coffee cause those health benefits.

Moderate consumption, that’s around 3 or 4 cups a day (in caffeine we are talking 300-400 mg/day), in adults show very little health risks, but the above mentioned health benefits.

Coffee makes you healthier

In an umbrella review published in the BMJ, 201 studies have been looked closer at. In this review, the authors concluded that there’s an overall positive non-linear link between coffee consumption and health outcomes. This means that drinking a certain amount of coffee (more is only better to a certain extent) gives a certain chance of improved health, compared to no consumption.
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They saw that people who had 3 or 4 cups of coffee a day, compared to people who don’t, lower their overall mortality risks. Furthermore, there was a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, a lower risk to get certain cancers. They also showed that there’s a lower risk to get metabolic and liver conditions.
While I was writing this article, I stumbled over a very recent study published in PLOS Biology. In the study the researchers found that 4 cups of coffee protect the hearth with the help of mitochondria (the mitochondrial protein p27). With an elevated caffeine level in your body this mitochondrial protein p27 gets active and improves mitochondria-dependent processes in heart cells. This means that caffeine concentration in your body has a positive, in this case, protective effect.

Harmful associations linked to coffee consumption have been negated

That is already great news we get from those researchers. What is even more exciting, is that they negated harmful associations linked to coffee consumption – after adjusting for smoking. What they still saw, though, was that in pregnancy a higher caffeine consumption, compared to low or no caffeine, lead to lower birth weight.
It would be great to know if coffee is the culprit, caffeine or a different lifestyle. As I stated above, even decaf shows benefits to health and might – and this is me speculating – be causing less or no negative impact during pregnancy.

Coffee for hunger modulation

While drinking moderate amounts of coffee seems to be healthy at the bottom line. A current review (International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition; Volume 68, 2017 – Issue 8) had a closer look at the potential to influence your appetite coffee.
After reviewing the literature, they found barely any changes in macronutrient intake when coffee had been consumed 3 to 4,5 h before a meal. In cases coffee has been drunk between half an hour to 4 hours before a meal, a possibility to suppress your hunger, thus eating a little less was noted (read more about how to eat less here).
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The time window is rather big. Furthermore, the evidence of the influence on the gastric system, hormones and appetite perception is ambiguous at best. What you can do with this information though, is to experiment with it.
Just have a cup of coffee close to your meal, especially lunch, and see if something changes. The worst thing that I see happening is that you eat as always. This isn’t detrimental at all and you have a chance to get the benefits discussed above from the coffee consumption.
Do you drink coffee? I drink several cups a day, not necessarily sticking to 3 or 4 cups, though (but I try!). Over the last couple of months, I have been playing around with a cup of coffee before my lunchtime. So far I am not convinced it makes a big difference, despite just having had liquids in my body. I am curious to hear your feedback about it too. Share them on social media or leave a comment below.

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