Have a Cup of Coffee!

One of the latest studies on the benefits of drinking coffee comes from the Baylor College of Medicine and is focused on its effect on the gut microbiome.  They found that people who drank two or more cups of coffee per day had higher levels of beneficial anti-inflammatory gut bacteria and lower levels of potentially harmful bacteria that are linked to metabolic syndrome and obesity.

Previous research has linked coffee to additional health benefits including protection against Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive decline, heart disease and certain types of cancer while also improving short-term focus and memory as well as exercise performance.

It appears that one of the main contributors to coffee’s health benefits is its high levels of antioxidant polyphenols.  Coffee is even higher in antioxidants than green tea and cocoa and is actually the biggest source of antioxidants in the standard Western diet.  Antioxidants fight inflammation which can lead to chronic disease.  They also improve gut health by protecting the lining of the gut while also encouraging the growth of probiotics (good bacteria).  Gut health plays a crucial role in your overall health and immunity.

In addition to its high antioxidant levels, coffee contains other nutrients including B-2, niacin, magnesium and potassium.  Caffeine helps your body burn fat and boosts your metabolism to assist in weight loss.  It also appears to protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia while also lowering the risk of Parkinson’s and liver diseases.  Overall, probably because of the protection it provides against disease, coffee helps you live longer.

There are some drawbacks to drinking coffee, especially in large quantities.  For some people it can cause nervousness, anxiety or irritability and can also keep you from going to sleep.  It raises blood pressure temporarily, but it has not been associated with long-term increases in blood pressure or as a cause of cardiovascular disease.  Moderate coffee drinkers actually have a lower risk of heart disease.

Keep in mind that coffee affects individuals differently, so the amount you drink will depend on how you feel.  While some may find that one cup is too much, others can feel free to have 2 – 4 cups a day.  Decaf coffee is also a good option, although the antioxidant level is reduced by up to 15% by the caffeine removal process, and you also lose the stimulant benefits of caffeine.  If you enjoy drinking coffee though, by all means, have another cup!

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