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Thursday 02nd April 2015

Coffee's Health Benefits - From Head To Toe

Coffee, for many years, was treated as a guilty pleasure: it tastes great; the aroma is enticing…but health experts warned against its consumption because of its caffeine content.

However studies carried out over the last few decades have changed how coffee is perceived. Now, the invigorating drink is touted as one of the best functional foods around – foods that have positive effects beyond basic nutrition. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the numerous healthy reasons for drinking coffee.

200mg Of Caffeine May Improve Long-Term Memory:

Want to get more out of an hour of studying or an instructive business seminar? “Drink coffee!”  a study published in the Nature Neuroscience Journal suggests, pointing to new research that reveals caffeine mayboost long-term memory and help improve retention after a learning session.

It is true that there are many studies looking at caffeine’s cognitive enhancing effect. Coffee and caffeine’s impact on long-term memory, however, is yet to be studied in greater detail – and Daniel Borota from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) led the research team to specifically look into this.

The study involved and analyzed 160 participants who were aged 18-30 years old. The first day of the study involved showing different pictures to participants, asking them to identify the images as whether “indoor” or “outdoor” items. The participants were randomized after the task – receiving either a 200mg-pill of caffeine or a placebo tablet.

The researchers showed the same pictures to the participants – while also tossing in new ones – in the second day of study. This time the participants were asked to identify whether the image in question was “new,” “old,” or similar to the pictures shown the previous day.

The results indicated that while both were able to accurately tell whether an image was old or new, those who took caffeine better recognized images that were similar than those who took the placebo pill.

But here’s what’s interesting: The research team conducted further experiments using 100mg and 300mg doses of caffeine. It turned out that 200mg of caffeine led to better performance compared to the lesser dose while the 300mg dose didn’t show any significant improvement over the 200mg dose.

Borota and his team are yet to pinpoint as to how caffeine enhances long-term memory as there are many possibilities. They speculate that the substance may block adenosine, a molecule that inhibits the function of the hormone norepinephrine, which has been proven to have memory-enhancing properties.

Further research is necessary to better understand caffeine and its memory-enhancing properties – but Borota and his team’s findings is a step in the right direction.

 

Reduces Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease:

Researchers from the University of South Florida and University of Miami conducted a study which monitored memory and thought processes of patients over 65 years old.

The result: participants with higher blood caffeine levels dodged the onset of Alzheimer’s disease during the 2-to-4 years of follow-up study, prompting researchers to say that this is the first direct evidence that links coffee- or caffeine-intake to reduced risk of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. It’s a chronic neurodegenerative illness that starts slowly but gets worse eventually. One of the disease’s early tell-tale signs is mild cognitive impairment or MCI. Brains of MCI patients are saddled with the initial Alzheimer’s pathology already, leading to short-term memory loss, difficulty in remembering recent events, and similar symptoms.

About 15% of patients with MCI deteriorate to full-blown Alzheimer’s each year so it makes perfect sense for researchers to focus on patients with the condition. The results were pleasantly interesting to say the least. Here’s what Dr. Gary Arendash had to say about it:

“We found that 100 percent of the MCI patients with plasma caffeine levels above the critical level (1200ng/ml) experienced no conversion to Alzheimer’s disease during the two-to-four year follow-up period.”

It’s also worth noting that MCI patients whose condition later progressed to dementia during the 2-to-4 year follow-up study had blood caffeine levels below the critical level – and 51% lower than those who remained stable throughout the follow-up study.

Dr. Cao, one of the researchers, warned that this study doesn’t prove that coffee consumption completely protects people from Alzheimer’s disease. But they firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can significantly delay the onset or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Help Patients Suffering From Parkinson’s Disease:

Shaking, stiffness, difficulty in walking, and unusually slow movements are some of the most obvious, movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. PD, the shorthand name for the illness, results from the death of dopamine-generating cells in one of the midbrain’s regions.

There are many studies showing that coffee and caffeine consumption can decrease the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. However, research published in the August 2012 issue of the Neurology journal was the first study to look into caffeine’s benefits for patients who already have PD.

The study, authored by Ronald Postuma, MD, MSc and also a member of the American Academy of Neurology, involved 61 patients with Parkinson’s disease, exhibiting known symptoms like daytime sleepiness and other motor problems.

The patients were given either a 100mg-pill of caffeine or a placebo pill 2/day for 3 weeks. Following that, they were given 200mg doses 2/day (the equivalent of 2 to 4 coffee cups) for 3 weeks.

The end of the 6-week period saw half of the caffeine-pill group averaging a 5-point improvement in PD’s severity ratings over those that took placebo. The caffeine group also exhibited an average of 3-point improvement over the placebo group when it comes to speed of movement and amount of stiffness.

The 5-point reduction can only delay diagnosis of PD by 6 months according to Postuma, making this a modest improvement. However, it could be enough to provide benefits to patients says the study author.

 

Improves Brain Chemistry:

Coffee doesn’t just pick you up when you’re running low on batteries, it also improves your brain chemistry based on different studies.

Caffeine keeps people up and running by blocking the activity of adenosine which makes us feel tired, sleepy, or fatigued. But it turns out that caffeine does more than block the uptake of adenosine.

The substance also has positive effects on other major neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and more. Caffeine also triggers a mechanism that releases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) – which signals brain stem cells to convert into new neurons. The end-result is improved brain health!

One of the studies, published in Neuroscience Letter (Oct.,2002), looked into coffee’s regulating effects on stress response. It was shown to restrain stress for 100 minutes in rats, leading to a marked increase in serotonin and dopamine levels.

Another study published in September 2011 and led by Michel Lucas, PhD, RD analyzed the link between coffee / caffeine consumption and depression risk – a subject that was yet to be explored.

The study involved 50,739 US women – with an average age of 63 years and all free of depressive symptoms during the start of the study. The 10-year follow-up study that ended in 2006 saw that depression risk in women decreases as coffee consumption increases.

Women who consumed 2-3 cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 15% less likely to succumb to depression than female participants who consumed only a cup of coffee or less every day. Those who drank at least 4 cups reduced depression risk by 20%…but those consuming decaffeinated coffee didn’t experience any risk reduction!

 

May Protect Patients Against Multiple Sclerosis:

Multiple sclerosis is often known through symptoms such as numbness, vision problems, and poor balance and coordination. This results from the immune system mistakenly attacking the sheath protecting nerve fibers of the brain and spine. It’s a terrible disease but coffee may help reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS for short) a study suggests.

The study involved 5,600 adults from the U.S. and Sweden. Researchers found that those who gulped down4 to 6 cups of coffee day-in and day-out are 30% less likely to fall victim to MS than those who don’t include coffee in their diet.

Dr. Ellen Mowry, the lead researcher of the study, emphasized that this doesn’t mean coffee fights MS nor that uninhibited coffee drinking is advised. That said, the study strengthens the evidence from previous studies which show that coffee (and perhaps caffeine) are neuro-protective – lowering risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

It’s also interesting to note that lab mice also benefit from high caffeine consumption – protecting them from developing a condition identical to MS by blocking a portion of their inflammatory process that damages nerves in the spine and brain.

 

Improves Blood Flow:

A small Japanese study led by Dr. Masato Tsutsui suggests that caffeine – coffee’s most active ingredient – may help the small blood vessels function better, improving blood flow and easing the strain on the perpetually beating heart.

Dr. Tsutsui, cardiologist and a professor at the University of the Ryukyus (Okinawa), found out that caffeinated coffee led to a 30% increase in blood flow compared to decaffeinated coffee. 27 healthy adults, aged 22 to 30 years old who did not regularly consume coffee, participated in the study.

The participants were asked to consume a 5oz. cup of coffee – it could be caffeinated or decaf but none of the participants or researchers knew. The researchers gauged overall blood circulation – measuring finger blood flow using a noninvasive method. The process was repeated 2 days later, this time with the other type of coffee however.

The end of the study saw a 30% improvement in the micro-vessels’ blood flow of the caffeine group. This helps regulate and ease blood flow around the body’s tissues and circulatory system according to Dr. Tsutui. The effect lasted for over 75 minutes with the heart rate levels remaining stable, although participants who drank caffeinated coffee had slightly higher blood pressure.

The Japanese lead researcher speculates that the improvement in blood flow comes is due to the improved function of the blood vessels’ inner lining. Known as endothelial function, it has been linked to possible heart attacks, cardiovascular diseases, and strokes. Caffeine may promote good heart health by opening these vessels and minimizing inflammation.

 

Reduce Risk Of Heart Rhythm Problems:

Patients with cardiovascular problems and heart rhythm disturbances have been warned numerous times against caffeinated coffee.

A large study led by researcher Arthur L. Klatsky, MD and a senior consultant in cardiology, shows that people could be barking up the wrong tree – and that moderate coffee consumption could even cut the hospitalization risks for individuals with heart rhythm problems.

The research team evaluated data from over 130,000 individuals – all members of the the large prepaid healthcare plan Kaiser Permanente. This massive group of participants reported on their coffee-drinking and other habits (ex.: smoking, drinking, etc.) during their routine health examinations from 1978 to 1985.

Klatsky and the rest of the team closely kept an eye on the group until 2008 and found that 27% are non-coffee drinkers, 14% drank less than a cup a day, 42% (the largest) consumed one to three cups daily, and 17% take 4 cups of coffee or more on a daily basis.

The results were interesting to say the least: The largest group, those that drank one to three cups daily, enjoyed a 7% reduction in hospitalization risk due to heart rhythm problems. However, those that consumed four cups or more enjoyed almost an 18% risk reduction – and the risk reduction was similar across men and women.

The researchers are still uncertain how exactly coffee reduces the risk. What this study reaffirms though is the long-held belief of heart specialists that coffee or its caffeine content doesn’t trigger heart rhythm problems.

 

Lowers Risk Of Heart Failure:

Heart failure is a terrible and widespread cardiovascular condition: 750,000 people in the UK live with it while 3 million cases are reported in the US annually. But it looks like moderate coffee drinkers don’t have to worry as much as non-coffee drinkers as that cup of Joe could be good for heart health. A US study’s findings suggest that 4 European cups of coffee (that’s about two 8-oz. servings in the US) could protect individuals against heart failure.

Elizabeth Mostofsky, who’s taking her post-doctoral at BIDMC’s cardiovascular epidemiological unit, analyzed data gathered from 5 different studies with her team. The data sources – 4 Swedish studies and one from Finland – had a total of 140,220 participants that experienced 6,522 heart failure events in total.

The research team found a statistically significant link between coffee consumption and risk of heart failure in the dose-response analysis: they have discovered that those who consume 4 European cups of coffee had an 11% lower risk of heart failure compared to non-coffee drinkers.

What’s also interesting is that consuming greater amounts of coffee didn’t lead to greater risk reduction. The benefits even disappeared at higher levels and it could even have potential for harm, while drinking less than 4 or 5 European cups of coffee didn’t lead to any benefits according to researchers

One of the researchers – Mittleman, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical Schools – attributes the oddity to the tendency to develop tolerance. It’s not uncommon for people to grow caffeine-tolerant after which coffee poses no risks and its ‘healthy heart’ benefits really kick in.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Coffee May Increase Blood Pressure BUT For A Short Time Only

Yes, coffee – because of its caffeine content – may cause a significant but short increase in blood pressure even in healthy individuals.

Researchers are still uncertain as to the exact cause of the spike: others believe that caffeine blocks a hormone that helps keep the arteries widened while some speculate that caffeine causes boost of adrenaline – both leading to an increase in blood pressure.

Some individuals that regularly consume caffeinated drinks have an average blood pressure that’s higher than those who don’t and unsurprisingly so. Avid coffee drinkers, however, may develop tolerance to the caffeine, rendering the effect on their blood pressure only temporary. It should also be noted that caffeine has stronger effects on the blood pressure of overweight males or those who are aged 70 years old and above.

Bottom line: Coffee is safe for consumption for most individuals. It does cause an increase in blood pressure but researchers say it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm…unless you are sensitive to the ingredient in which case speaking to your physician is recommended before consuming anything that contains caffeine.

 

Caffeine is easily absorbed by the body with peak blood levels occurring within 45 to 60 minutes of consumption. The substance causes a host of bodily responses most of which are known to the average coffee lover: increase in blood pressure, greater stomach acid production, and stimulating effects to the brain.

But that’s not all! Research reveals that caffeine can also help improve one’s endurance and performance; reduce their perception of pain; break down stored fat; and other benefits that would interest athletes and active individuals. What’s more, these physiological benefits can last for up to 12 hours after taking caffeine!

Let’s take a closer look at how coffee and caffeine can help you push beyond your limits and comfort zone at the gym.

 

Better Performance & Endurance:

Caffeine is without a doubt one of the most studied and best-tested performance aids for athletes – helping these individuals train harder and longer, think clearer, and concentrate better.

There are over 70 different studies on caffeine and its benefits for short, high-intensity exercises as well as activities that demand endurance. The majority of the studies concluded in favor of caffeine, showing that coffee’s most active ingredient does indeed boost performance by about 12% while seemingly reducing exertion by an average of 6%.

Athletes and participants were asked to rate their physical effort in the studies, better known as Rating of Perceived Exertion (PRE). Many studies have yielded significantly lower RPE’s in athletes that consumed caffeine.

A meta-analysis carried out in 2005, for example, found that one’s perception of physical exertion is reduced by 5% through caffeine consumption…making the exercise feel easier. The reduction of RPE improved the athletes’ performance by 11% according to the study. It should be noted however that the benefits of caffeine are far more pronounced with endurance exercises than with short, intense activities that last for 8 to 20 minutes.

Now, there are more benefits to caffeine than just altering one’s perception of exertion – and one of them is due to the way the substance affects glycogen.

Glycogen is one of the two types of fuel that keep your muscles going during workout or exercise. This fuel, however, can be easily depleted especially during intense sessions at the gym, and when glycogen levels run low, exhaustion strikes.

There is another source of muscle fuel however and it’s far more abundant than glycogen: fat! Wouldn’t it be nice if we can ‘convince’ our muscles to use those fat deposits and spare our glycogen stores? That’s exactly what happens when you consume caffeinated coffee!

Studies have shown that caffeine mobilizes fat storage, encouraging…‘commanding’ the working muscles to use those deposits. Caffeine helps spare glycogen by decreasing its utilization by 50% during the first 15 minutes of the exercise. This aids in keeping fatty deposits at a healthy low while preserving glycogen levels for the later stages of a gym session, allowing active folks to get in those extra reps and laps without grinding themselves to dust.

It’s not yet clear how caffeine does what it does. What’s clear, however, is that caffeine triggered glycogen sparing in all studies that measured glycogen levels in the muscles.

One example is a recent study carried out by the ACSM that involved well-trained athletes. The researchers found that the participants’ endurance levels (in running and cycling) were boosted by taking 3 to 9mg of caffeine for every kilogram of bodyweight.

 

Helps Reduce Perception Of Pain:

Doesn’t it frustrate you when your muscles are too sore and in pain after a workout…and your busy day has just started? It’s one of the many challenges in staying fit and looking great, but no worries – taking 2 to 3 cups of coffee an hour before an intense, 30-minute workout can lead to significant pain reduction, and that goes a long way when it comes to nailing down those high-intensity, sweat-inducing exercises.

Robert Motl, a professor from the University of Illinois, is a former competitive cyclist who routinely chugged down coffee at a nearby shop with his teammates before hitting the road for long-distance training rides. The professor is aware that caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine which is heavily linked to pain processing. His speculation: If caffeine can block adenosine’s effects, the substance can reduce pain as well.

And so a study was carried out and it involved 25 college-aged, fit males. The participants were divided into 2 groups: those whose daily caffeine consumption was very minimal… almost non-existent and those that consumed an average of 400mg of caffeine (translates to about 3-4 cups of coffee) day-in and day-out.

The 25 study participants were asked to carry out some initial exercise (on the lab’s stationary cycle) to determine their aerobic power, and then they were asked to return for two high-intensity, 30-minute exercise sessions which were monitored.

The subjects were instructed not to consume caffeine 24 hours prior to the exercise sessions and were instead given a pill – which could contain placebo or caffeine at a dose of 5mg for every kilogram of bodyweight.

The researchers led by Motl asked subjects to rate their perception of pain at regular intervals – while also monitoring oxygen intake, heart rate, and work rate. Motl and his team concluded that caffeine reliably and consistently reduced pain during cycling across all participants and regardless of the intensity.

Researchers from the University of Georgia seem to echo Motl’s findings. In their study, they discovered that drinking 2 cups of coffee about 60 minutes prior to training reduced muscle soreness by up to a whopping 48%. Coffee blows away other pain-relievers and anti-inflammatory medications like naproxen and aspirin which could only manage 30% and 25% reduction respectively!

 

Helps Speed Up Recovery:

There have been many studies on caffeine’s effects before and during exercise and workouts. But a group of Australian researchers noted that the scientific world is yet to shed light on caffeine’s effect AFTER a physical activity. John Hawley from the University of Bundoora, Australia and his team of researchers looked into the subject and their conclusion is something that should interest you especially if faster recovery after workoutsis high on your list.

The study that was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology used highly-trained subjects – cyclists and triathletes who train 12 to 15 hours per week. Two trials were carried out which saw the participants ride to exhaustion the night before the trial; consume a low-carb diet; and once again ride to exhaustion the next morning. This ensured that glycogen stores were depleted.

The high-trained participants were then given 4g of carbs for every kilogram of bodyweight (using sports bars, gels, drinks that contain carbs, etc.) during 4-hour recovery period of the first trial. The second trial’s recovery period had the participants consume carbs AND caffeine at 8mg for every kilogram of bodyweight.

The team of Australian researchers saw that the overall amount of glycogen was over 60% higher after the carb-caffeine combo compared to consuming carbohydrates alone. Hawley had no doubts that having more glycogen in the muscles leads to better performance. This means consuming caffeine with carbohydrates puts more fuel (glycogen) in your tank and that helps speed up recovery. While a dose-response analysis is still necessary to find practical applications, the initial study’s result is very promising.

 

Helps Preserve Muscle Tone:

Our muscle strength declines as we age, leading to injuries and reducing one’s quality of life. Scientists are yet to answer why this happens, and while they’re doing investigative work, one should try and delay the onset of age-induced muscle degradation by preserving muscle tone.

How?

A study presented at the Society for Experimental Biology says consuming caffeine can boost the power of aging muscles. This suggests coffee may help elderly people or aging athletes bolster and maintain their strength, which could reduce the risk of injuries.

The study led by Jason Tallis along with sports scientists at Coventry University found that caffeine could enhance performance in two different muscles from mice. Yes, the benefits were less pronounced in older muscles, but it shows that coffee and its main active ingredient can still provide performance-enhancing benefits.

 

Certainly you’ve heard of the term metabolism, which gets tossed around a lot especially when talking about weight loss. It’s the complex biochemical process that converts the food we eat and drink into fuel – combining the calories we consume with oxygen to transform it to energy that we need for daily activities.

This process is at work even if you’re at rest (known as resting metabolism) as breathing, blood circulation, growth and repair of cells, and other hidden and involuntary body processes require energy

The relationship between metabolism and what you see on the weighing scale is a complex one. What scientists and experts agree on, however, is that increasing one’s metabolic rate can aid in weight loss in more ways than one: it helps you burn calories faster and this in turn gives you more energy and stamina for longer, harder workouts…making it possible to burn twice as many calories in a gym session.

And if you’re the type to start their mornings with a cup of Joe or take a mugful of coffee to work, you’ll be pleased to know that your favorite pick-me-up beverage is a tried and tested metabolic booster…and can help you shed those unwanted pounds! This isn’t wishful thinking. The hype behind coffee’s metabolism-boosting and pound-shedding properties is warranted as some of the studies referenced below showed.

Robert Kenefick, PhD and a researcher at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, carried out a study that looked into coffee’s weight loss effects.

The end of the study saw Kenefick concluding that coffee drinkers lose more weight than those who don’t. The researcher attributed it to caffeine’s stimulating effects to the central nervous system (CNS) – increasing one’s heart rate, breathing, and spiking up the metabolism by up to 16%. Kenefick made it clear, however, that one must consume caffeinated coffee (not decaf) to achieve these benefits.

Experts P.Kootand P. Deurenberg, on the other hand, published the results of a randomized blind study in the US Nat’l Library of Medicine which showed that coffee benefits one’s resting metabolic rate.

The study involved 12 young and healthy male volunteers who were asked to consume 150ml of decaffeinated coffee that may or may not have 200mg of added caffeine. The treatments were done in duplicate and the researchers monitored the resting metabolic rate of the participants up to 3 hours after consuming coffee. The results showed that caffeine consumption increased the participants’ resting metabolic rates and kept it elevated for the 3-hour duration.

But while all of these studies prove that coffee has beneficial effects on metabolism and weight management, researchers A.G.Duioo, C.A.Geissler, T. Horton, A. Collins, and D.S. Miller noticed that most of these studies put the spotlight on the thermogenic effects of caffeine at large doses.

So they wondered: “Would coffee and caffeine have the same influence of metabolism and daily energy expenditure when consumed at normal amounts?” For example, a cup of coffee contains about 100mg of caffeine – significantly smaller than the doses administered in most studies (200mg or even more).

The answer came when 18 healthy volunteers from King’s College in London were studied. The participants were put into 2 groups: the first group consisted of volunteers who claimed to maintain healthy body weight without significant effort. The second group, on the other hand, were healthy weight-wise but previously suffered from mild-to-moderate obesity.

Both groups were administered with a single oral dose of 100mg of caffeine. The researchers then measured 24-hour energy expenditure, resting metabolic rate (RMR), and diet-induced thermogenesis in all subjects.

And the study’s conclusion will please average coffee drinkers: caffeine – even at commonly consumed doses – can have significant effect on energy! It may promote thermogenesis and may help in treating obesity according to the researchers. The lean and post-obese groups both exhibited an increase of 3% to 4% in resting metabolism after caffeine consumption.

 

Growing Evidence That Coffee Helps You Live Longer:

It’s amazing how a cup of Joe can transform you from a sleepless office zombie to an energized, productive person. What’s even more amazing however is the growing body of evidence that shows coffee can help you live a longer and healthier life!

Dr. Eric Rimm, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, is confident that the evidence supporting coffee’s life-prolonging benefits is substantial – and they are beneficial across the board. Dr. Rimm led a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Rimm and his fellow researchers examined the responses of over 400,000 participants, adjusting risk factors like smoking and alcohol consumption.

Rimm and his team concluded coffee consumption led to lower risks of dying from diabetes, heart and lung problems, and other detrimental diseases compared to non-drinkers. The scientists observed that consuming 2 or more cups of coffee led to 10% overall death reduction for men while women enjoyed a 15% reduction!

It should be noted that the study didn’t look into any cause-and-effect relationship with coffee and death risks. Nevertheless, the link between coffee and longer life is very strong.

Coffee packs a lot of ingredients and researchers aren’t sure which of its components deliver these benefits. They suspect however that chlorogenic acid has something to do with it. The compound works like an antioxidant, helping our body ward off cell-damaging free radicals. It may also help increase insulin sensitivity and minimize the likelihood of developing diabetes (type 2).

 

May Help Prevent Eye Damage & Diseases:

A cup of coffee a day may keep the eye doctor away according to a joint study between Cornell University and Korea Institute of Science and Technology, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2013.

No, it’s not the caffeine but coffee’s chlorogenic acid (CLA), a highly beneficial compound. It’s famous for its anti-cancer and anti-oxidizing properties – and raw coffee is 7% to 9% CLA (dwarfing its caffeine content at 1%). And the recent joint study showed that CLA can prevent retinal degeneration in mice. The study involved treating mice eyes with nitric acid, leading to oxidation and damage in the retina. Mice that were pretreated with CLA however didn’t suffer from any retinal damage.

But while CLA proved beneficial to mice eyes, further research is necessary to determine if drinking coffee can deliver CLA directly to the retina. Should further research turn out positively, many speculate that doctors may recommend specific brews to prevent eye damage.  Synthetic compounds delivered via eye drops may also develop from coffee.

 

Helps You Maintain Healthy, Glowing Skin:

There is existing evidence suggesting that coffee can protect against non-melanoma skin cancers – but what about protection against malignant melanoma?

It turns out that coffee can reduce the risk for melanoma too –the 5thmost common cancer and the number one cause of skin cancer deaths in the United States! What made melanoma a deadly disease is that it spreads quickly throughout the body when left unchecked according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

The study was published in the JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute) and was led by ErikkaLoftfield from the National Cancer Institute. Loftfield, together with her team, gathered data from 447,357 participants of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study – all of which are cancer-free when the study began. The research team measured coffee consumption, UV exposure, BMI, alcohol intake, smoking history, and other statistics.

The 10-year follow-up uncovered 2904 cases of malignant melanoma, and in reviewing the results, Loftfield and company concluded that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop malignant melanoma compared to those who don’t, reducing their overall risk by 20%.

Meanwhile, a 2008 study carried out at the University of Sao Paolo shows that coffee reduces not just melanoma risk but even the appearance of cellulite too! The researchers discovered that applying caffeine-infused skin cream to cellulite reduced the fat cells by 17%. This supports a 2007 study at the Federal University of Rio de Janiero which saw its participants reduce 70% of their hip diameter thanks to caffeine cream (applied to cellulite).

 

Rich In Antioxidants:

Caffeine is coffee’s most active and famous ingredient, and its stimulating effects are well-documented. It’s not just your senses that get a morning jolt from coffee however; your body’s defenses are just as happy that you chugged that cup.

A study – carried out by researchers at the University of Scranton and presented at the 230th Nat’l Meeting of the American Chemical Society Coffee – says that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the US diet.

This is partly because Americans are heavy coffee drinkers with 54% of its over-18 population consuming coffee daily – but that’s not the whole story. Joel Vinson, PhD, chemistry professor, and study leader, added that nothing else – not even fruits and vegetables – comes close to coffee as far as antioxidant content is concerned. The study also showed that caffeinated and decaf coffee provides identical antioxidant levels.

And this is great news for the coffee lover!

Antioxidants benefit us by blocking the activity of free radicals – the highly reactive ‘bad guys’ that can cause damage to cells which could lead to cancer. The more antioxidants you get through your diet, the better the protection against free radicals and cancer.

Quinines is just one of the disease-busting antioxidants that coffee has. Quinines, along with magnesium which is also found in coffee, has been suggested to positively affect blood sugar levels and lower the risk of diabetes. Trigonelline, also found in coffee, is an antibacterial compound that gives the wake-up beverage its enticing aroma – and it may also help prevent dental caries.

 

Lowers Gout Risk In Men:

Gout is characterized by swelling and intense pain in the joints, caused by deposits of uric acid. Coffee-loving guys, however, don’t have to worry as much about the condition as coffee consumption is shown tosignificantly reduce gout risk.

A joint study between Canada and US revealed that the more coffee men drink, the lower their gout risk – slashing it by up to 40%. The study was based on data from about 46,000 male medical professionals, and saw 757 of the participants develop gout after 12 years.

The researchers concluded that greater coffee consumption in men meant they’re less likely to get the painful condition. Consuming 1 to 3 cups only led to 8% reduction while 4 to 5 cups of coffee daily dragged down gout risk by 40%. But it’s the real coffee fanatics – those that consume over 6 cups a day – that maximize the anti-gout benefits, reducing their risk by a whopping 60%.

 

Caffeinated Coffee, Very Potent Anti-Cancer:

Numerous studies, many of which have spanned decades or even longer, have come to the conclusion that most warnings against coffee were unwarranted – even changing the medical industry’s position regarding the beverage with its impressive anti-cancer properties. It may not be surprising for some since coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, but it’s always nice to know that your favorite wake-me-up drink is healthy. Check out the following studies.

  • Coffee lovers who consume 4 cups of coffee or more may reduce their risk of contracting and dying from oral cancer by a significant amount according to Janet Hilderbrand, MPH and an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, who evaluated 968,000 individuals (all enrolled in the Cancer Prevention Study II) in 1982. The researchers evaluated the coffee- and tea-drinking habits of the participants and found that heavy coffee drinkers slash their oral cancer risk by half compared to non-coffee drinkers or those who drink occasionally.
  • Women who love coffee and their fancy, spill-proof mugs could be reducing their risk of endometrial cancer according to an English researcher. Mellissa Merritt, study leader and researcher from Imperial College London, and her team evaluated data on over 456,000 women from 2 large studies – paying close attention on the dietary habits of 2800 women diagnosed with endometrial cancer. They found that those who drink 4 cups or more lower their risk of developing the cancer by 18%. Merritt wasn’t surprised at all however, saying that the findings were consistent with previous studies.
  • A study presented at one of American Association For Cancer Research’s conferences showed a strong link between coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk reductionKathryn Wilson, PhD and a postdoctoral at Harvard Medical School, is already familiar with coffee’s effects on insulin, glucose metabolism, and sex hormones – crucial ‘players’ in the development of prostate cancer.The investigation carried out by Wilson and her fellow researchers revealed that males who consume coffee lower their risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 60% compared to those that don’t consume coffee.
  • You may only consume a cup of coffee or two daily, but that’s enough to reduce your risk of glioma (a brain tumor) by 34% according to a research led by Dominique Michaud, a researcher from Brown University. Michaud and his colleagues examined data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition longitudinal study. It involved following 410,000 people from 9 countries for 8.5 years. The researchers concluded that drinking even as little as 100ml of coffee daily reduced the risk of glioma significantly, and men who regularly consume coffee and tea experience greater risk reduction than women.
  • Drinking two cups of coffee daily may lower the likelihood of developing colon cancerThe researchers analyzed the coffee consumption of 8500 participants in Israel – 5000 of which had colorectal cancer while the remaining 3500 were cancer-free. The study came to the conclusion that colon cancer risks were reduced by an average of 30% for coffee drinkers. It’s interesting to note that greater coffee consumption showed better risk reduction: participants that consumed 1 to 2 cups/day had 22% reduction; 2 to 2.5 cups had 44% reduction; and 59% reduction for participants that consume more than 2.5 cups of coffee regularly. The researchers theorized that coffee may lower colon cancer risk by reducing the passage time of substances through the colon…which means the tissues have less exposure to cancer-causing agents.

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