There’s nothing like the first cup of coffee in the morning. The smell hits your nostrils before the rich liquid floats over your taste buds. It’s better at waking you up than any alarm clock.
Whether you like the taste of a fresh brew from a single cup coffeemaker or prefer the robust flavor that comes from an old-fashioned percolator, there’s more to coffee than a caffeinated jolt. In fact, researchers have been studying its impact on our health for years, and you might be surprised by what they’ve discovered.
Before delving deeper into the benefits of coffee drinking, experts caution people against drawing cause-and-effect conclusions—“coffee prevents type 2 diabetes.” Rather, studies examine associations between coffee drinking patterns and health conditions—“coffee drinkers have a lower incidence rate of type 2 diabetes.”
Still, researchers are confident in their findings regarding the beverage’s relationship to the following diseases.
Apparently, coffee promotes the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in plasma. No, this doesn’t mean your sex drive will suddenly skyrocket. What it does mean is that SHBG controls testosterone and estrogen activity, both of which are believed to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Another theory is that because coffee contains magnesium and chromium and they support the proper use of insulin, it helps control blood sugar. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body isn’t able to utilize insulin effectively, and therefore, there’s less control over blood sugar levels.
Finally, an Australian study found that the risk of developing diabetes drops by 7 percent with each cup of coffee in one day.
Doctors have yet to figure out what causes Parkinson’s disease, but they have accumulated enough evidence to empirically state there’s a lower incidence rate among coffee drinkers. In this case, caffeine seems to take the credit, but scientists aren’t exactly sure why the caffeine in coffee makes a difference.
What’s more, the caffeine seems to help control some of the involuntary movements Parkinson’s sufferers experience.
Studies out of Finland and Sweden link daily coffee consumption with lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease compared with non-coffee drinkers. Study participants who drank three to five cups a day were 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed with either dementia or Alzheimer’s.
While it may not have any kind of impact on other types of cancer, for some reason, coffee is good for keeping the liver free from cancer. An Italian study says that regular coffee consumption could lower one’s risk of liver cancer by nearly 40 percent. It’s equally effective on battling cirrhosis of the liver, even among heavy drinkers. A report this spring suggested that two or more cups per day may decrease death associated with cirrhosis of the liver by as much as 66 percent.
A few cups every day just might keep the old ticker beating happily. According to a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard School of Public Health study, people who drank approximately four cups of coffee each day presented with an 11 percent lower risk of heart failure.
A separate study documented that regular coffee drinkers (one to three cups per day) were five times less likely to be hospitalized because of arrhythmias.
In 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists revised its stance on drinking caffeinated coffee during pregnancy. It now states that no more than 200 mg or approximately 12 ounces a day is acceptable and poses no major risk to mother or baby.
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