400 million cups of coffee are consumed in the US every day, explaining why America is the leading coffee drinking nation in the world. But many coffee drinkers enjoy their kick-start to the day with more than a little bit of guilt, fearing that their ‘habit’ is just an unhealthy indulgence which serves as a pick-me-up when energy levels are running low.
New evidence proves quite the opposite though. A long-term study carried out on 520,000 people over an average of 16.4 years, found that those who drink coffee every day can expect to live longer than those who avoided the beverage entirely. Men from 10 different European countries were 12% less likely to die early in comparison to the abstainers, while women who enjoyed this stimulating brew were 7% less likely to experience an early death.
Here we discuss some of the many benefits that coffee has on various aspects of your health and fitness, which could all contribute towards a longer lifespan.
Protecting Against Some Cancers
Coffee is enjoyed in many forms, whether it be a hit of espresso, a cold iced brew or a delicious mocha recipe with chocolate and whipped cream. However, all variations include one common factor: the humble coffee bean. And it is this vital ingredient which is key in reducing your risk of developing cancer. Coffee is rich in antioxidants which are essential in fighting all types of the disease, although liver cancer is thought to be one of the most preventable for coffee drinkers. Recent research published in the AASLD’s Hepatology Journal found that those who drink coffee regularly are 41% less likely to develop liver cancer.
Reducing The Likelihood of Liver Cirrhosis
In fact, the liver is one of the main organs in the body that can benefit from the regular consumption of coffee. Cirrhosis of the liver is an irreversible condition, which is potentially fatal and kills around 1 million people every year worldwide. The condition can be caused by a number of factors, such as long-term excessive alcohol consumption, hepatitis infections and fatty liver disease; the latter is usually the result of an unhealthy diet full of processed foods and fats, culminating in obesity and diabetes. Essentially, excessively unhealthy living is a key factor in damaging this vital organ.
A diagnosis of liver cirrhosis is often devastating, but coffee drinkers are offered hope against developing this condition. A recent set of studies analyzed by Dr Oliver Kennedy and his team from Southampton University has revealed that drinking just two cups of coffee every day results in a 44% lower risk of cirrhosis. More than 430,000 participants were involved in the research, of which 1,990 had already received a diagnosis of cirrhosis. 8 of the 9 studies found that the more coffee that was consumed, the lower the risk of developing cirrhosis. Those who drank 3 cups of coffee, reduced their cirrhosis risk by 57% and this climbed higher to 65% for those who made it through 4 cups a day.
It should be made clear that the way in which you take your coffee will affect your liver too. If you prefer your favorite beverage laden with whipped cream and marshmallows, then those treats will put extra pressure on the organ anyway, counteracting the benefits that the coffee bean provides.
Coffee Prevents Diabetes
While coffee may have a sensitive effect on the insulin levels of existing type 2 diabetes patients, the drink also reduces the likelihood of those who are not yet diagnosed with diabetes from developing the condition in the future. The polyphenol molecules found in coffee are thought to protect against a number of inflammatory conditions such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease. A 2014 study of US and UK professionals from the healthcare sector found that those who increased their coffee consumption enjoyed an 11% decrease in the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes over the next four years.
Fat-Busting and Boosting the Metabolism
Another benefit that coffee has is in relation to general fitness. Coffee and working out might not seem like they go hand in hand, but the 3-11% boost that the beverage provides for the metabolism is reason enough to give it a go. As unusual as it may seem, if you drink coffee before a workout, you will encourage your body to use its fat cells as a source of energy in comparison to glycogen.
This, alongside the boost in metabolism that will be provided and the natural appetite-suppressing properties of the drink, mean that you stand to burn fat quicker, contributing to overall weight loss. Keeping your weight within a healthy BMI range is another vital component of a longer life-span.
It is interesting that the fat burning effects of consuming coffee are more pronounced in people of a healthy weight. Slimmer and more lean people could burn up to 29% extra fat if they drink coffee, whereas those who fall into the obese category might only receive a 10% advantage. This catch 22 situation means that people who are overweight or even obese will need to lose weight by other means, perhaps diet or other fitness activities, before they can benefit from the edge that coffee is able to provide their long-term health with.
It is also unfortunate that the effects of coffee on fat burning and metabolism tend to work better on younger people and often in the short-term, as the body becomes accustomed and tolerant to receiving caffeine in the bloodstream. So, if you’re new to coffee drinking, or have recently upped your daily intake and are already of a healthy weight, then you could expect to achieve some positive results quickly.
As with all things related to healthy living, it’s important to drink coffee in moderation to reap maximum benefits and to be sensible with what you add to your favorite beverage. But the next time you feel guilty for pouring yourself a morning brew, remember instead the rewards you’ll be providing your body.