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Diabetes is on the upswing in the United States: About 1.5 million people are diagnosed each year, according to the American Diabetes Association, and approximately 7.2 million people have the disease but don’t know it yet. But it's not all bad news. Researchers from Harvard University believe that drinking coffee—either decaf or regular—might help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, the most common form. According to the analysis, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, the more coffee people drink, the less likely they are to develop type 2 diabetes. (It is possible to overdo it, though. To keep insomnia, tummy troubles, and migraines at bay, health experts recommend drinking no more than four 8-ounce coffees daily.)
More recent research has shown the opposite. Drinking coffee is now associated with a lower risk of diabetes, stroke, and cognitive issues like depression. One reason may be that coffee is rich in powerful antioxidants, and researchers now think it’s particularly good at reducing inflammation. One recent study showed older people who consumed more caffeine showed much lower levels of inflammation than those who didn’t. Another recent large study of over 200,000 people found coffee drinkers may live longer.
To support this argument, consider this. A recent in-depth research done in Turkey last year revealed an inverse relationship between consumption of coffee and blood levels of all liver enzymes. Conventionally, increased levels of liver enzymes reflect damage and inflammation to the liver. Simply, the more coffee drank, the lesser their enzyme levels.
What I do instead is use either a very small touch of organic maple syrup or a half packet of natural stevia to just lightly sweeten my coffee. I've also become a big fan of coconut sugar recently, and this is healthier than plain sugar because it does contain some minerals and other nutrients, and has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. On the other hand, if you like your coffee black with no sweetener at all, that's the healthiest way.
There are more than 1,000 compounds in coffee, many of which likely harbor anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds, according to a recent BMJ research review. “The coffee bean itself has antioxidants in it, which help prevent free radical damage that could potentially lead to cancer,” explains Susan Oh, MPH, director of the nutrition research program at Johns Hopkins, who was not involved with the study.
We’re not talking about the inflammation caused by a killer workout, we mean the type of disease-causing inflammation that’s spurred and worsened by old age. Caffeine has an amazing influence on your immune system—so much in fact that nearly all the other health benefits below could be explained by its ability to fight and ward off disease (like type 2 diabetes and heart disease), according to research published in Nature Medicine. In short, caffeine blocks certain receptors on brain cells, which is how coffee has its stimulating “wake-up” effect. In impeding these receptors, caffeine also blocks pathways that product inflammatory molecules, the researchers found. So, as you age, don’t be wary of coffee. In this study, the older men and women who drank more caffeine had fewer inflammatory molecules; they also had lower blood pressure and more flexible arteries, more relatives who lived past age 90, and were healthier overall.
I also occasionally like to add a teaspoon of organic cocoa powder (non-sweetened) to my coffee to make my own sort of mocha coffee (but without the loads of sugar in a typical mocha you'd get at the coffee shop, so just use a little stevia to sweeten). The added cocoa powder also gives you great taste and a good dose of extra healthy antioxidants (and cocoa is also known for helping to lower blood pressure!)