Coffee might seem to have become the premier symbol of our modern fast-paced lifestyle. Often used as a quick wake-up, midday pick-me-up, or to get through a late-night cram session for school or work, coffee as a beverage is only increasing in popularity.
Coffee’s history as a beverage that made its way from the Arabian peninsula into Europe and beyond is an interesting one. However, the use of coffee in its entirety is being studied more closely and could place coffee in a whole new context as a beneficial component to human health and the environment.
Let’s look at the comprehensive health benefits that coffee can impart, whether ingested or applied.
1. Energy booster: We might as well start with the most obvious. This is no doubt the #1 reason why most of us race for our coffee each morning. But unlike sugary drinks, potentially dangerous “energy drinks” or even a large glass of morning juice, the boost from coffee is normally longer lasting (1 hour peak, lingering in the system for 3-8 hours) without any of the cliff-like energy crash associated with artificial concoctions of sugar and caffeine. So long as we are not adding heaps of processed sugar, or over imbibing, coffee is a great way to get started, or to offset the mid-day fatigue many people encounter.
2. Memory enhancer: Coffee’s connection to the mind was immediately apparent to the Arabs who first began to cultivate and process coffee for consumption. The National Coffee Association succinctly summarizes this part of coffee’s history:
The popularity of the coffee houses was unequaled and people frequented them for all kinds of social activity. Not only did they drink coffee and engage in conversation, but they also listened to music, watched performers, played chess and kept current on the news of the day. In fact, they quickly became such an important center for the exchange of information that the coffee houses were often referred to as ‘Schools of the Wise.’
This was echoed by nearly every new culture that subsequently encountered their first cup of coffee. For an entertaining and informative account of the impact of coffee amid a historical backdrop with fictionalized characters, we have to recommend David Liss’s book The Coffee Trader.
Modern-day science is confirming these early observations. Research into caffeine at Johns Hopkins University highlights the positive impact on long-term memory:
Their research, published by the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that caffeine enhances certain memories at least up to 24 hours after it is consumed.
“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans,” said Yassa, senior author of the paper. “We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.” (Source)
3. Positive effect on Alzheimer’s – The same properties which offer memory enhancement to a normally functioning brain also have been proven to reverse and even cure the full-blown memory loss of Alzheimer’s. It is now thought by scientists that a main characteristic of Alzheimer’s are deposits known as tau deposits which disrupt nerve cell communication in the brain and lead to eventual degeneration. Alzheimer’s remains one of our most tragic diseases as there is currently no drug on the market to prevent this degeneration. However, in a recent study into the effects of caffeine’s receptor-blocking potential, researchers used mice with tau deposits and found the following stunning results:
In comparison to a control group which only received a placebo, the treated animals achieved significantly better results on memory tests. The A2A antagonist displayed positive effects in particular on spatial memory. Also, an amelioration of the pathogenic processes was demonstrated in the hippocampus, which is the site of memory in rodents.
“We have taken a good step forward,” says Prof. Müller. “The results of the study are truly promising, since we were able to show for the first time that A2A adenosine receptor antagonists actually have very positive effects in an animal model simulating hallmark characteristics and progression of the disease. And the adverse effects are minor.” (Source)
Other studies have shown that coffee also can protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s, which is even more exciting. One study published in the Journal For Alzheimer’s Disease titled, “Caffeine as a Protective Factor in Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease” cites up to a 65% potential reduction in the chance for the onset of Alzheimer’s, and they cite coffee specifically as the most positive source for obtaining your caffeine intake:
For tea drinking, protective effects against cognitive decline/dementia are still less evident. In the CAIDE study, coffee drinking of 3–5 cups per day at midlife was associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD by about 65% at late-life. (emphasis added)
4. Improved liver function: Many people might think of liver disease as primarily an inherent outcome of severe alcoholism. However, modern-day processed foods and drinks are loaded with toxins that can stress the liver. Combined with water treatment, pesticides, pollution, and obesity it is harder than ever to maintain a healthy liver.
An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) and the Duke University School of Medicine suggest that increased caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). (Source)
The researchers went on to conclude that the equivalent of 4 cups of coffee would be extremely beneficial to liver function.
Another study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology concluded that coffee consumption reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, by about 40 percent, and that three cups of coffee per day reduce liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent. (Source)
5. Skin care: And speaking of skin, coffee is a well-known and beloved exfoliant that when used in all-natural coffee soap is guaranteed to produce healthier looking, softer skin. Other studies point to topical benefits for reducing dark circles under the eyes, reducing inflammation and skin redness, even as a cream to reduce cellulite.
But a study from Rutgers University really demonstrated coffee’s extra-topical power, so much so that one might consider a full coffee bath from time to time to prevent skin cancer.
The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports the theory that caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level by inhibiting a protein enzyme in the skin known as ATR. Based on lab experiments on mice, scientists think caffeine applied directly to the skin might help prevent damaging UV light from causing skin cancer. (Source)
Coffee contains an extremely high level of antioxidants, which is thought to give it the ultimate power when combined internally and externally.
6. Reduces risk of type-2 diabetes: Diabetes has truly become an epidemic; and, once again, many are pointing the blame at the typical modern diet and a sedentary lifestyle as more people find themselves at desk jobs during the day and seated in front of a television at night.
The number of people with type-2 diabetes who are under 40 years old has tripled over the last 20 years. 25.8 million children and adults in the United States — 8.3% of the population — have diabetes. 79 million people are in a prediabetic state. And the complications from type-2 diabetes are too long to mention. These statistics are why it is so exciting to read the following information – follow the numbered links to read the full scientific reports.
According to a massive review that looked at data from 18 studies with a total of 457,922 individuals, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (28). (Source)
Now, imagine getting your diet in line, exercising moderately, and consuming coffee.
7. Reduces likelihood and effects of Parkinson’s: Similar to Alzheimer’s, there is no current cure for this degenerative condition. And, here again, caffeine is being shown to prevent and/or ameliorate the effects. One study was conducted administering decaffeinated coffee and caffeinated to subjects. The results are startling. However, it is important to note that in this case it appears that men had a far increased rate of health benefits than women, which has spurred further study into the role of specific hormones in Parkinson’s and a potential negative consequence of hormone replacement therapy:
After adjustment for age, smoking, and alcohol intake, coffee consumption was inversely associated with Parkinson’s disease mortality in men (ptrend = 0.01) but not in women (p = 0.6). In women, this association was dependent on postmenopausal estrogen use; the relative risk for women drinking 4 or more cups (600 ml) of coffee per day compared with nondrinkers was 0.47 (95% confidence interval: 0.27, 0.80; p = 0.006) among never users and 1.31 (95% confidence interval: 0.75, 2.30; p = 0.34) among users. These results suggest that caffeine reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease but that this hypothetical beneficial effect may be prevented by use of estrogen replacement therapy. (Source) [emphasis added]
The restorative effect of caffeine was cited in another study:
Altogether, the studies reviewed provide strong evidence that caffeine may represent a promising therapeutic tool in PD, thus being the first compound to restore both motor and non-motor early symptoms of PD together with its neuroprotective potential. (Source) [emphasis added]
The combination of a lowered risk and alleviating the onset of symptoms further shows the comprehensive power of coffee.
8. Fat burner/Performance enhancer: The energy boost we feel shortly after our first gulp of coffee is not just a neurological side-effect. According to several studies, there is a marked increase in metabolic rate, which is the cornerstone of fat burning. When we combine these findings with others that show the anti-inflammatory nature of caffeine, we can find ourselves in an optimal position to feel energized and with a reduction in the pain associated with exercise. It’s an unbeatable natural combo that should make us look to coffee instead of costly fat burning supplements which have as their core component … you guessed it: caffeine.
9. Eases depression: Many people experience a heightened mood following a nice cup of hot coffee. Energy boost, additional clarity, and a sense of optimism are frequently reported. It turns out that science once again backs up this general feeling of euphoria.
That is a very large pool of people, and consequently a great number of lives that can be saved with this low-cost natural product when extrapolated out to a global population.
10. Life extension: When we look at all of the factors above, we can conclude simply that you will extend your life through the moderate consumption of coffee-based caffeine. Interestingly, one study highlighted a specific coffee that appears to be supercharged even compared to the rest: Greek coffee. Researchers went to the Greek Island of Ikaria to observe residents who have the highest rates of longevity in the world.
1% of the island’s isolated, rurally based residents live to be over 90, whereas only 0.1% of Europeans reach this age.
Selecting 71 men and 71 women from a group of 673 Ikarian islanders aged 65+, medics collected medical health data and information on lifestyle (including coffee drinking), and tested endothelial function.
87%+ of the participants drank boiled Greek coffee daily, and the scientists found that those who drank mainly boiled Greek coffee had a better endothelial function that those drinking other types of coffee. (Source) [emphasis added]
Wider studies also show trends in longevity based on the overall health benefits of coffee use:
Between 1995 and 2008, male participants drinking even just one daily cup reduced their risk of death by 6%. Drinking either two to three cups or six or more cups reduced the risk by 10% during the timeframe of the study. The greatest reduction of death risk was 12% in the group drinking four to five cups. (Source) [emphasis added]
As we can see, there is no question why coffee is a glorious creation of nature. While it continues to be popularized by chain outlets as a diverse beverage – and it is – it is the list above which really shows off its comprehensive value to human beings from any day and at any age.
Have you discovered other personal health benefits of coffee? Can you personally confirm any of the above benefits from your own life or anyone close to you? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.
For those who are die-hard coffee drinkers, we’d like to present you with 25 Yummy and Non-Toxic Coffee Recipes from Daisy Luther at Organic Prepper. Feel free to add your own unique creation to this list.
There are some exciting coffee products coming on the market which offer enhanced health, as well as a contribution to the environment.
Whole coffee fruit is loaded with high concentrations of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients.
whole coffee fruit products have significantly higher levels of important nutrients than conventional coffee. Coffee polyphenols, for example:
- Neutralize toxic free radicals.
- Help protect against systemic oxidative stress.
- Help reduce the incidence of oxidative pathologies such as coronary heart disease, inflammation and possibly even certain cancers.
- Provide health benefits associated with glucose management, Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, depression and anxiety and oral health.
This might be the most exciting new product we have come across in some time. While it is not slated for a full marketing roll-out until 2015, it has been introduced to several areas. In answer to the question, what is coffee flour, their site states:
Each year the billions of coffee beans that eventually make their way into the Americanos, lattes, and no-foam, extra-hot, triple-shot cappuccinos of the world are harvested by milling and extracting them from the coffee plant. The surrounding pulp, known as the coffee cherry, is discarded. It often gets dumped into rivers or left to rot in heaps. So we invented something better to do with it. Something that’s better for everyone.
Nutritionally, it has some amazing properties:
- 5x more fiber than whole grain wheat flour.
- 84% less fat and 42% more fiber than coconut flour.
- 3x more protein per gram than fresh kale.
- 3x more iron than fresh spinach, and more iron than any grain or cereal in the USDA database.
- Contains less caffeine than brewed coffee. The amount per serving is dependent on the varietal, concentration and particular recipes.
- 1oz of coffee flour™ has 2x the potassium of a banana.
Visit their site to learn more: http://coffeeflour.com/