Coffee is by far the most popular beverage on the planet (aside from water). The caffeine in your morning cup of Joe – also found in tea, chocolate, etc. – is also the most frequently ingested pharmacologically active substance in the world. There have been a lot of recent debate over the benefits and drawbacks of coffee (and caffeine) consumption, and with a lot of new research coming out, I thought I would take the time to highlight some of the findings. The following is a quick review of five ways coffee can extend your life.
#1 Coffee Reduces All-Cause Mortality
Researchers recently examined the coffee habits of over 120,000 healthy men and women and compared them to their health outcomes. The coffee drinkers did not have any increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or all-cause mortality (death by any cause) with coffee consumption.(1) In fact, this and other studies have found there may be a modest benefit of coffee for reducing risk.(2, 3) (This also applies to decaf coffee, so the benefits aren’t just due to the caffeine.).
#2 Coffee Cools Inflammation
The Nurse’s Health Study investigated the effects of regular and decaf filtered coffee on markers of inflammation in healthy and diabetic women. They found coffee consumption did not have a negative impact on blood vessel health, and in fact was inversely associated with inflammatory markers CRP and E-selectin.(5) In the right dose, coffee can help cool inflammation.
#3 Coffee = Longer Telomeres
Disease risk increases as you age, however it varies greatly depending on the person. Telomere length has been shown to be a reliable marker of healthy ageing.(6) The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found high caffeine intake (from any cause) shortened telomere length. Not good for longevity and anti-aging. However, drinking coffee was associated with longer telomere length amongst the almost 6,000 people studied.(7) Longer telomeres equals a longer life!
#4 Coffee Reduces Cancer Risk
A recent meta-analysis study found coffee consumption was beneficial for reducing the risk of mouth, liver, colon, prostate, endometrial, and melanoma cancers.(8) Cancer is one of the most common chronic diseases to shorten life span. (Just make sure you don’t add sugar to your morning coffee, as increased blood sugars and insulin raise your cancer risk).
#5 Coffee Support Healthy Microbiome
Coffee is a naturally rich source of polyphenols, a group of phytochemicals that support improve gut health by providing a fuel source to “good” Lactobacillus strains of gut bacteria.(9) Keeping your gut bacteria happy is crucial for your blood sugar response to food, as well as helping to control systemic inflammation and auto-immune disease flare-ups. The microbiome is now one of the most widely researched areas of human health and performance.
Who Is At Risk of Negative Effects of Coffee?
Children, women of reproductive age, people who are genetically “slow metabolizers” of caffeine and anyone consuming more than 6mg/kg bodyweight per day may be at increased risk of adverse symptoms like anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, changes in behaviour and negative impacts on fertility.(10) In clinical practice, I see clients start to struggle when they add more than 2 cups per day, or if they regularly consume coffee after lunch time. For most people, taking a day off each week or 4 days off in a row each month, will help prevent habituation.
Coffee smells and taste great, and It’s nice to know it may also provide some anti-ageing benefits and extend your life (just don’t over-indulge). Enjoy your morning ritual.
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS