Coffee: Healthy or Unhealthy?
Coffee has been under large debate in previous years but mounting research is in support of drinking moderate amounts of coffee for improved health in many arenas.
For example, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released a report this year stating that moderate amounts of coffee and caffeine are not related to long-term health risk. What is considered moderate amounts of coffee and caffeine in these studies, I may consider a little too much. Make sure you are always keeping your habits in moderation. The DGAC’s guidelines suggest that up to 5 cups of coffee daily or 400 mg of caffeine are safe. But we might modify this suggestion to say up to 3 or 4 cups of coffee can safely be consumed without increased health risk.
Additionally consumption of coffee has been linked to decrease risk for certain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes type 2, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is important information considering that cardiovascular disease is still the number one fatal illness in men and women throughout the world.
A report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2014 revealed significant reductions in all-cause as well as CVD-related mortality associated with consuming three to four cups of coffee per day. Another meta-analysis from 2011 published in the American Journal of Epidemiology supports reductions in the risk for stroke in participants who regularly drank coffee compared to those who didn’t. Stroke is currently the fifth leading killer in The United States.
A number of studies have connected coffee consumption with a significantly decreased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The most likely cause of this decreased risk is because these studies reveal that coffee consumption is linked to improved glucose metabolism and better insulin control. This also could support why coffee and tea consumption can sometimes be associated with weight loss.
Consider this: from 1980 to 2011, the number of people in the United States diagnosed with diabetes more than tripled. According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report put out by the Center for Disease Control, 29 million people in the United States currently have diabetes. This accounts for 9.3 percent of our population!
Perhaps some of the most exciting coffee research are the studies revealing a connection between coffee drinking and decreased risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012 revealed that moderate to heavy coffee consumption (3-5 cups daily) decreased the progression to dementia. In addition, additional studies have supported caffeine drinking and improved cognition and memory consolidation.
We all know the immediate effects of coffee on cognition and productivity, but it is rewarding to see studies that support the use of coffee long-term for improving cognition and decreasing risk for dementia. Another way to decrease risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s is to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Having type 2 diabetes is a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Improving glucose metabolism can help to decrease dementia risk.
Developing a diet that is extremely low in sugar can help you prevent type 2 diabetes, prevent unnecessary weight gain, and can help prevent future Alzheimer’s risk. Overconsumption of sugary drinks is one of the number one causes of obesity in children. And children who start out obese are heading towards an inevitable future of diabetes and heart disease if they do not change now. Sugar is bad for you and sugary drinks are worse. They are worse because they don’t even have any fiber to combat all of the sugar you are putting in your body.
A large study recently conducted in the United Kingdom of 25,000 people found that reducing intake of sugary drinks, sodas, or artificially sweetened drinks was connected to a 14 to 25 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The study also found that drinking artificially sweetened drinks was not connected to a lower risk of diabetes. The study furthered their recommendations to drinking unsweetened drinks as the best option. Replacing even one sweetened drink with unsweetened coffee, water, or tea provided benefits for reducing diabetes risk.
So, the take home for this article is that if you are drinking coffee, it best not be in the form of a 20-ounce sugary coffee drink. It is best to drink your coffee black or with a small amount of creamer and include tea also because it is a great source of caffeine and will provide antioxidants as well. Coffee drinks simply offer too much sugar to be beneficial long term (sorry Starbucks L).
 The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/10-chapter-5/d5-5.aspAccessed August 6, 2015.
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 Laura O’Connor et al. “Prospective Associations and Population Impact of Sweet Beverage Intake and Type 2 Diabetes, and Effects of Substitutions with Alternative Beverages.” Diabetologia 58 no. 7 (2015): 1474–83. doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3572-1.