Photo Credit: by @ironfanyu
Everyone loves their morning cup of joe for different reasons. Coffee provides a perky pick-me-up, a comforting warm beverage to hold as you ease into your day, and a tasty sip to look forward to at the beginning of each new day.
Plus, there’s so many different ways to doctor up this magic and fragrant liquid, from iced black coffee to a silky latte to a light-brown cappuccino with lots of rich foam. Maybe your favorite coffee is Lavazza premium blend organic from Costco (did you know that your local Costco likely offers a free coffee grinding service?) or maybe you’re all about Vietnamese instant coffee, like Super charcoal-roasted white coffee. There are types to suit every taste!
But did you know that your morning coffee might be doing your health some favors, too? And we’re not just talking about feeling awake and alert! Some studies suggest that your sunrise cup of coffee might actually be linked to reducing your risk of cancer. Read on to learn more about the connection between coffee and cancer.
Coffee and cancer
Did you know there may be a link between coffee and reduced risk of cancer? An article on TTV states, “In recent years, including reports from Europe, the United States, Japan, and China, more and more scientific studies have shown that drinking a moderate amount of coffee every day can prevent cancer.”
But what is it about coffee that can help to prevent cancer, and can it protect against all cancers or only certain types?
The article states, “Nutritionist Xie Yifang said that coffee contains chlorogenic acid, caffeine, caffeine (cafestol), kahweol, trigonelline and other antioxidant components and phytochemicals … [these] are strong antioxidants, which can reduce the chance of causing cancer.”
Coffee’s anti-oxidation, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrosis properties are what help to prevent liver cancer. Coffee may also be able to reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, improve liver fibrosis, reduce the production of steatohepatitis, and reduce the accumulation of fat and collagen in the liver, according to the article. That’s because collagen is “the culprit of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis” and coffee as a chemical also has a protective effect on liver carcinogens.
According to TTV, “A European study of 486,799 people (including 201 people suffering from liver cancer) found that the group with the highest amount of coffee per day had a less than 72% chance of developing liver cancer than the group with the lowest amount of coffee. In addition, animal experiments in European and American countries have also found that the two types of coffee alcohol and kahweol contained in coffee can adjust the enzymes that cause liver cancer and detoxify carcinogens. In other words, coffee can adjust the detoxification function of the liver. The activation of enzymes makes the liver’s detoxification function better.”
Coffee works with the body to boost its functions and help protect against certain types of cancers. It seems that coffee may have the power to protect the body against various types of cancers, including liver, prostate, colon, colorectal, and cervical cancer. This is a big deal since these are some of the most common and deadly types of cancers.
And we’re not just talking about a minor risk reduction here. A report by BCBay states that “according to research by British scientists, as long as you drink a cup of coffee a day, the chance of getting liver cancer can be reduced by half.”
Further scientific research suggests that coffee’s power doesn’t stop there. It may also be able to reduce the risk of hepatitis and cirrhosis (with more benefits the more you drink), improve memory and prevent dementia, strengthen the body’s gastrointestinal functions, reduce incidence of diabetes, prevent cardiovascular disease, improve metabolism, and even protect nerve cells.
If you’re looking for a morning beverage with benefits, it seems that coffee is the way to go.
Coffee and COVID
Recent research suggests that the power of coffee doesn’t just extend to helping to prevent cancer. It also may help to reduce the risk of COVID.
An article in The Tribune explains, “Drinking one or more cups of coffee per day was associated with about a 10 per cent decrease in risk of Covid-19, compared to less than one cup daily, claimed a study. The study, led by researchers from the Northwestern University in the US, also found that the consumption of more vegetables, and less processed meats, could cut the risk of Covid infection. Coffee is known to contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.”
Believe it or not, your coffee habit may be a good idea for your long term health and short term health, too. Coffee doesn’t just give you a boost of caffeine and a bolt of energy. In fact, it may help your immune system.
Ladders explains, “Coffee is a major contributor to polyphenol intake, specifically phenolic acids, which are reducing agents that — when combined with vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids — can protect the body’s tissues from cancers, heart disease, and inflammation. In addition, coffee has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can lower the risk of pneumonia in older adults. Caffeine contains a bronchodilator drug called theophylline, which can open up airways in the lungs to help relieve symptoms and make breathing easier.”
In other words, coffee has the power to help your immune system. Other consumable items with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties, which you can eat to help lower your risk of contracting COVID, include good old fruits and vegetables. There’s also food to avoid, such as processed meats, which can increase the risk of severe infection.
Tips on how to drink coffee for optimal health
If you’re going to drink coffee in pursuit of improved health, you need to make sure you do it right. Coffee may have many potential health benefits, but if you load it up with milk and sugar, you’re likely doing more harm than good.
Instead, try to stick with black coffee, and use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup if you do choose to sweeten your cup. Pick a dairy or non-dairy creamer depending on your personal preference and tolerance. There are many options out there nowadays, from coconut milk to oat milk and beyond. Make sure you’re not just dosing your body with a load of processed ingredients and artificial sweeteners, because these are health hazards. It seems that for the most benefit from coffee, drinking it daily or habitually is the way to go.
The wrong way to drink coffee
While coffee can be good for your health, overdoing it can cause all sorts of problems, so always drink coffee mindfully. While there are many benefits, there are drawbacks to drinking coffee as well, especially if you are consuming large amounts of coffee. Drinking too much coffee may make you feel shaky, dizzy, or jittery, and can interfere with your appetite.
Too much coffee can also lead to high blood pressure (a precursor to heart disease which could require turning to heart medication), headaches, or an abnormal heartbeat (usually a rapid or racing pace, which is uncomfortable). Plus, if you’re addicted to caffeine, going without it can have some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
According to Healthline, “Most types contain caffeine, a substance that may boost your mood, metabolism and mental and physical performance. Studies have also shown that it’s safe for most people when consumed in low-to-moderate amounts. However, high doses of caffeine may have unpleasant and even dangerous side effects. Research has shown that your genes have a major influence on your tolerance to it. Some can consume much more caffeine than others without experiencing negative effects.”
The article goes on to state that side effects of too much caffeine can include anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, muscle breakdown, addiction, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, urination frequency and urgency, and even fatigue… which is usually the last symptom people want when they turn to coffee!
Before you start drinking more or less coffee, it’s best to chat with your doctor to determine a safe and healthy amount of coffee to drink each day. A medical professional can weigh the potential risks and benefits and help you decide how much coffee is the proper daily amount for you and your individual health needs.
Different types of coffee
There are many different types of coffee out there. While all coffee comes from the seed of a coffee cherry, from there the possibilities are endless. You can get it cold or hot, strong or weak, and made from a wide variety of beans and roasts! And if coffee doesn’t have enough health benefits on its own for your liking, you can add things like protein powder, collagen, and other supplements to really give the beverage a boost.
One way to drink coffee that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years is cold brew. Instead of conventional brewing methods (which typically involve very hot water and a quick brew), cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period of time, typically several hours.
In some instances, cold brew coffee may be a healthier choice. For one, cold brew is less acidic than regular coffee. And if you’re trying to maximize the benefits of drinking coffee and minimize what makes it unhealthy, cold brew may be the better option for you because it’s easier to drink black.
According to the Food Network, “Since cold brew tastes smoother, sweeter and more full-bodied, cold brew is more often enjoyed black … Without the addition of cream or sugar, cold brew clocks in at less than 25 calories per serving.” Like all coffee, cold brew is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents and “it likely has benefits in terms of brain health, bone and digestive health, as well as against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and all-cause mortality.” The article adds that research into the microbiome and gut health benefits is ongoing.
For an easy and healthy cold brew coffee recipe, simply mix a bag of coarsely ground coffee beans with enough cold water to coat and thoroughly wet all of the coffee grounds. You’ll need a large container or pitcher for this. Let your coffee steep anywhere from a few hours to overnight (it will be stronger the longer you let it brew!) and then filter out the grounds.
The resulting elixir will be a smooth, tasty brew that you can sip and savor! Serve over ice and then customize it to your liking. If you still want hot coffee, you can even heat it up if you like, even though the coffee was brewed cold.
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