coffee & health

Coffee’s Health Benefits

For years, the news about coffee vacillated between positive and negative. At the same time, study after study extolled the health virtues of tea. But a flurry of new research suggests that coffee offers nearly as many health perks while protecting against a number of diseases.

All this is not to suggest you should start gulping endless cups of java if you’re not already a coffee lover. After all, excessive coffee intake may have a downside for some people.

Antioxidants and More

A few years back, headlines trumpeted the news that coffee was the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet. One of the prime antioxidants in coffee is methylpyridinium, which may help protect against colon cancer. In one study, for every two cups of coffee the participants drank, there was a 43 percent reduced risk of liver cancer. This same substance slows the intestines’ absorption of glucose and might help explain coffee’s protective effect against type 2 diabetes

Here’s something else you probably didn’t know: Coffee is the main dietary source of the trace element boron. Biologist Curtiss Hunt at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center found that an eight ounce cup of instant coffee contains about 57 mcg. of boron. Coffee is also a surprising source of more familiar minerals and nutrients, including chromium, magnesium and niacin.

Coffee and Heart Health

Additional antioxidant compounds in coffee – caffeic, p-coumaric, and ferulic acids – may curb cardiovascular disease by protecting low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, the “bad” cholesterol) from oxidation, fending off inflammation and improving blood vessel function.

In 2006, Norwegian researchers found that older women drinking one to three cups of coffee daily were 24 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers. Because the caffeine in coffee has a short-term elevating effect on blood pressure, people who drink one cup after another may keep their blood pressure high for periods long enough to risk heart trouble.

Coffee’s long-term effect on blood pressure has long been debated, and should be weighed against any possible benefits. A 2007 Finnish study of 24,710 healthy men and women, ages 25 to 64, found that over an average 13.2-year follow-up period, those drinking two to three cups of coffee daily were 29 percent more likely to start drug treatment for high blood pressure. Moderation is key when it comes to coffee, if you suffer from hypertension.

Brain Benefits

Anybody who’s experienced coffee’s morning wake-up call to the brain knows that it can temporarily help sharpen thinking. But coffee may also boost brain function in more lasting ways. A European study of 676 healthy men found that those consuming three cups of coffee daily suffered significantly less cognitive decline over 10 years than non-drinkers. And in 2007, a French study concluded that older women who drank at least three cups of coffee daily were 18 percent less likely to develop problems with verbal recall and 33 percent less prone to memory problems. And new evidence shows that middle-aged coffee drinkers slash their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life compared with those drinking no coffee or only a little. Other research shows that coffee may defend against Parkinson’s disease. A notable Finnish study found that drinking 10 cups of coffee a day slashed the risk of developing Parkinson’s by as much as 84 percent. Researchers suggested that the caffeine in coffee might stimulate dopamine, the brain chemical lacking in the disease.

From Gallstones to Gout

Coffee also seems to protect against both gallstones and kidney stones. In two large studies, people who drank two to three cups a day of caffeinated coffee were less likely to develop gallstones than nondrinkers. Decaf coffee didn’t protect against gallstones, but it did keep kidney stones at bay, perhaps simply by boosting total liquids.

In the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, Harvard researchers found that coffee consumption was linked to a lower blood level of uric acid – the substance linked to this type of arthritic disease. People who drank six or more cups a day were 40 percent less likely to develop gout. Despite coffee’s growing list of benefits, the caffeinated version still may not be ideal for some people. If you’re concerned that coffee is keeping you up at night, try decaf or drink it earlier in the day. However, if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), be aware that decaf coffee has been shown to aggravate reflux as much as the caffeinated kind.

Less clear is whether caffeine can aggravate arrhythmias or raise the risk of breast cancer in women with benign breast disease. The latest findings from Harvard’s Women’s Health Study suggest an increased risk for women who drink four or more cups of coffee daily. However, in the Iowa Women’s Health Study, no link was found.

Research Brief …

It’s common knowledge that most people tend to gain weight and lose bone as they age – neither of which is particularly healthy. But here’s the problem: If you try to lose unwanted weight, it only promotes more bone loss – increasing the risk of fractures and the dangerous complications that accompany them. A study designed to answer that exact question provides some answers.

The research, from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Pennsylvania State University, studied 130 men and women, aged 30 to 65. The people in the one-year study ate one of two low-calorie diets: A reduced-calorie diet that provided either the currently recommended intake of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, plus two servings of low-fat dairy a day, or 0.64 grams of protein per pound of body weight with three daily servings of low-fat dairy.

The researchers found that the weight-loss diet with nearly twice the recommended amount of protein and three servings a day of low-fat dairy not only improved calcium intake, but was much more effective at preserving bone mass during weight loss -  especially when compared to the lower protein (and higher carbohydrate) weight-loss diet. These findings add to the growing amount of evidence that high-protein diets do not leach calcium from bones, as long as calcium intake is adequate.

Tags: ,

The Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Drinking coffee daily is a normal routine for more than 108 million Americans consumers, including the majority of US adults and a growing number of children. Is this habit good for our health or is it harmful?

Coffee has been the subject of research for decades and the results consistently show that coffee is more healthful than harmful. Research takes place daily on coffee, caffeine and health around the world. Hundreds, if not more, of new studies are published every month by scientists and research institutes worldwide.

Coffee has two main ways of improving the health of your body: antioxidants and caffeine. Both of these substances have health and anti aging benefits. Antioxidants help your body repair damage to cells caused by free radicals. These free radicals are produced as a by-product of cells through normal daily activities.

The health benefits of coffee are many and the research supports them. For example,

ASTHMA RELIEF: caffeine can help manage asthma and even control attacks when medication is not available. Did you know that a single dose of pain reliever such as Anacin or Excedrin contains up to 120 milligrams of caffeine? This is the equivalent of a hefty cup of coffee.

CAVITY PROTECTION: caffeine can prevent cavities because of a compound called trigonelline which gives coffee its aroma and bitter taste. Trigonelline has both anti-bacterial and anti-adhesive properties that help prevent dental cavities from forming.

CHOLESTEROL: a paper filter is worth a “pound of cure” or so. There are two substances in coffee, kahweol and cafestol, that raise cholesterol levels. During the brewing process, paper filters capture these substances. Paper filters, in this case, help in the prevention of harmful cholesterol levels. Coffee drinkers who drink non-filtered coffees such as “lattes,” which do not use paper filters, may want to reconsider their choice and frequency of beverage for their own health benefit.

COLON CANCER: drinking at least two cups of coffee daily can translate into a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer. Coffee drinkers, as compared to non coffee drinkers, appear to be 50% less likely to get liver cancer. They also have lower rates of colon, breast and rectal cancers. There is a powerful antioxidant found almost exclusively in coffee, methylpyridinium, that boosts blood enzymes widely believed to protect against colon cancer. Methylpyridinium is formed in the roasting process from a chemical found naturally in coffee beans. Dark roasted coffees contain two to three times more of this antioxidant than medium roasts.

CIRRHOSIS: coffee drinkers have up to 80% reduced risk to suffer from cirrhosis than non coffee drinkers. People who smoke and are heavy drinkers have less liver damage as compared to those who do not. The reduced risk of alcohol cirrhosis may be associated with the phenolics and related substances in coffee.

DEMENTIA: drinking coffee during middle age may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and the risk of dementia in the elderly. Coffee drinkers at midlife have a lower risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life than people who drank little or no coffee at midlife. Moderate coffee drinkers had up to a 65% decrease risk of contracting these conditions as compared with low coffee drinkers.

GALLSTONES: certain compounds in coffee may help prevent liquid stored in the gallbladder (“bile”) from crystallizing or hardening. This is what causes gallstones and obstructs the bile duct, a narrow tube which leads from the gallbladder to the intestine. Gallstones are painful and patients can experience fever and jaundice. Coffee drinkers have almost a 50% reduced risk of suffering from gallstone disease as compared to non coffee drinkers.

HEART DISEASE: People who smoke and are heavy coffee drinkers have less heart disease as compared to those who do not. Drinking coffee as part of a healthy and balanced diet is not associated with the development of cardiovascular problems, including atherosclerotic disease, myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and hypertension.

MENTAL ALERTNESS: caffeine enhances concentration, reduces fatigue and heightens alertness. The reason lies in caffeine’s effect on brain receptors, enabling a better energy uptake.

MALE FERTILITY: caffeine in coffee appears to increase sperm “motility.” Motility is the speed at which sperm moves. Since sperm hyperactivity is critical to fertilization, heightened motility increases the odds of pregnancy.

PARKINSON’S DISEASE: antioxidants and caffeine have health and anti-aging benefits. Antioxidants repair the damage to cells caused by free radicals. People who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Caffeine’s adenosine-blocking power may be one mechanism through which the brain cells in Parkinson’s disease are protected. Based on this and other evidence, Parkinson’s drugs are being developed that contain a derivative of caffeine. However, it seems that coffee protects men better than women against Parkinson’s disease. This is because estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized and estrogen captures those enzymes.

TYPE 2 DIABETES: drinking one to three cups of coffee daily can reduce diabetes risk by single digits. Drinking six cups or more each day can reduce men’s risk up to 60% and women’s’ up to 30% as compared to non coffee drinkers. Coffee has large amounts of antioxidants such as Chlorogenic acid and tocopherols. Coffee also has minerals such as magnesium. All these components improve insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism and lower blood sugar.

The good news about coffee and health keeps getting better. Coffee and caffeine are recognized for their positive health benefits and potential functional food attributes. Obviously, check with your own physician regarding any medical conditions, treatments, diagnostics, pregnancy or special dietary plans for you.

Go ahead and drink coffee. In the process, you will derive some health benefits. Enjoy a cup of Panama Boquete specialty coffee!

The Health Benefits of Organic Coffee Enemas

Not what you would call polite dinner party conversation or for some any conversation at all. Just the mention of enemas sends shivers down some people’s spines whereas for others it’s just a way of life to possibly save their lives.

During the First World War morphine was running very low and coffee was hardly available. As a common practice, after surgery when the anesthesia wore off the Doctor would prescribe water enemas for the soldiers to help with the pain. The Doctors were drinking what coffee there was available and apparently a nurse seeing the good the coffee was doing for the Doctors decided to place the left over coffee into the soldiers enema buckets and to their surprise the patients were having a significant reduction in their pain.

Hearing the news from the front, researchers from the German University of Goettingen’s College of Medicine started doing experiments on rats. They observed that the caffeinated enemas stimulated the laboratory animals bile ducts to open. The caffeine causes the hemorrhoidal blood vessels and the liver’s portal veins to dilate. The end results is the liver flushes toxic bile and is washed out as bile salts through the duodenum.

Many cancer patients have also reported a shrinkage and sometimes tumor elimination from performing organic coffee enemas for a period of at least two years. The health benefits of organic coffee enemas are numerous.

Tags: ,