Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word – Part 1
Written on November 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm, by Eric Cressey
I’m excited to present to you an awesome guest post on coffee consumption from Brian St. Pierre. I learned a lot reading this two-part series over, and I’m sure you will, too!
Coffee is the second most popular drink in the world, trailing only water (and debatably, tea). As you all know, caffeine is a key component of coffee and is a compound of great debate. It is the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug, with 90% of North American adults consuming caffeine daily. However, is this such a bad thing?
Many health advocates would try to convince you to give up coffee and possibly even caffeine altogether. However new research has certainly raised the question, should we actually give up our beloved Cup o’ Joe?
Does Metabolism Matter?
There is a lot of conflicting research on coffee consumption, and it seems to be because people have different clearance rates for caffeine. On one hand, you have the “slow” metabolizers of caffeine: people who are adversely affected by caffeine, get the jitters, and are wired for up to nine hours. Then, there are those who simply have an increase in energy and alertness that wears off within a few hours; they are considered “fast” metabolizers of caffeine.
This seems to be a defining difference in whether or not coffee will help you or hurt you, as those who are slow metabolizers may be at an increased risk for a non-fatal heart attack, while the fast metabolizers may not.
If you are a slow metabolizer of caffeine and coffee, steer clear. It’s not for everybody, and it is not for you. In your case, it can do more harm than good, and this may explain why coffee consumption has been associated with:
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Interference of normal sleeping patterns
- Increased PMS symptoms
- Increased blood pressure, even in people without hypertension
- Non-fatal myocardial infarction
Fortunately, this seems to be a minority of the population. For those lucky enough to be fast metabolizers, there is good news – and lots of it.
Why Coffee Rules
Coffee has more antioxidants than dark chocolate or tea, and may make up as much as 50-70% of the total antioxidant intake for the average American!
A recent study found that men who drank the most coffee (6 or more cups per day) were nearly 60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers.
In fact, at least six studies have found that regular coffee drinkers have up to an 80% decreased risk for developing Parkinson’s.
In addition, other research has shown that when compared to non-coffee drinkers, people who regularly consume two or more cups per day may have a 25% decreased risk of colon cancer, up to an 80% decreased risk for cirrhosis, a 35% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and up to a 50% decreased risk for gallstones!
In terms of the gallbladder protection, it was only seen in people who drank caffeinated coffee. So, if you drink decaf, it’s not doing much for the gallbladder.
The final verdict on coffee and cancer is that coffee consumption is associated with a lower overall risk of cancer. Period. Specifically, coffee consumption has shown to be associated with a lower risk or oral, esophageal, pharyngeal, breast (in post-menopausal women), liver, colon, and aggressive prostate cancer. Sounds good to me!
Beyond the health benefits, there are many noted mental and physical performance benefits as well. Caffeine has been shown to reduce the rate of perceived exertion, so it doesn’t feel like you are working as hard as you really are. In addition, people who regularly drink coffee have been found to have better performance on tests of reaction time, verbal memory, and visuo-spatial reasoning.
Taking it a step further, another study found that elderly women over the age of 80 performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function if they had regularly consumed coffee over the course of their lifetimes.
In addition, many people think of coffee as increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the reality is that coffee consumption has been found to moderately reduce the risk of dying from CVD. Another study, done in Japan, followed 77,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 79. Researchers found that caffeine and coffee consumption were also associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
One other coffee/caffeine myth is the idea of dehydration. It is widely believed that caffeine-containing beverages like coffee and tea cause the body to expel more fluid than they provide, but does the research actually back this up?
A recent review of 10 studies found that consuming up to 550mg of caffeine per day does not cause fluid-electrolyte imbalances in athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Another review the following year found that consuming caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle does not lead to fluid loss in excess of the volume of fluid ingested, nor is it associated with poor hydration status. Myth busted.
That seems like an awful lot of awesome with respect to coffee consumption, but does it continue? Check back soon for part 2 to find out!
Healthy Food Options: Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government
Metabolic Cooking: Making It Easy to Eat Clean
About the Author
Brian St. Pierre is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He received his degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a focus in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, and he is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the same institution. He was the Nutritionist and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA for three years. He is also the author of the Show and Go Nutrition Guide, the accompanying nutrition manual to Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training System.
With his passion for seeing his clients succeed, Brian is able to use his knowledge, experience, and energy to create highly effective training and nutrition programs for clients of any age and background. For more information, check out his website.
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