To start properly, let’s get the most important thing out of the way: there are numerous benefits associated with drinking coffee, from boosting your energy levels and improving your focus to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and dementia. But what’s good gets better: it turns out that coffee also positively impacts the liver, one of the most hard-working organs in the human body.
What’s the exact link between your daily caffeine intake and your liver health? Let’s dive a bit into the topic:
Coffee Fights Against Liver Disease
Multiple studies found that drinking coffee was associated with a reduced risk of chronic liver disease and other liver health conditions. For example, a UK study published in BMC Public Health evaluated the data of almost 500,000 people tracked for approximately ten years and discovered that:
- Coffee drinkers have a 21% reduced risk of chronic liver disease;
- Coffee drinkers have a 20% lower risk of fatty liver disease;
- Coffee drinkers have a 49% reduced risk of death from chronic liver disease.
The full study can be read here, and it showcases that while instant coffee and decaffeinated coffee are also beneficial, ground coffee has the most remarkable impact. Researchers believe these results are possible thanks to coffee’s anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Moreover, liver specialist Jamile Wakim-Fleming declared that coffee is particularly helpful when it comes to fighting against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition currently affects 1 in 4 people in America. Caffeine also seems to lower the odds of developing cirrhosis.
How Much Coffee Should you Drink Per Day?
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been established a golden rule in regards to the ideal caffeine intake. The general consensus is that up to 400mg of caffeine should be completely safe for most adults. Dr. Wakim-Fleming recommends three cups per day to prevent liver problems and up to six cups in case you’ve already developed hepatitis or fatty liver disease.
However, the body’s ability to tolerate caffeine differs from individual to individual. Excessive coffee may pose health threats for people with irregular heart rates and lung cancer. Pregnant patients are advised to consume up to 300mg per day.
Not all coffee is created equal
We would like to tell you that your pumpkin spice latte is a healthy beverage, but chances are you’re just ingesting a lot of sugar and calories without getting the health benefits of regular coffee.
Experts recommend black and filtered coffee – as unfiltered coffee contains diterpenes that raise cholesterol. It is also recommended to skip cream, sugar, and milk or opt for artificial plant-based sweeteners and plant-based milk.
Other less-known health benefits of coffee
As mentioned above, caffeine has multiple health benefits that should incentivize everyone to pour an extra cup. To name a few scientifically-proven ones:
- Coffee fights depression. A Harvard study published in 2011 indicates that women who drank four or more cups of coffee daily had a 20% decreased risk of developing depression symptoms. Another study shows that individuals who drink four or more cups of coffee per day are 53% less prone to suicide.
- Coffee improves sports performance. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and increases adrenaline levels, breaking down body fat and allowing your body to use fatty acids as fuel. Therefore, studies show that caffeine can improve physical performance by 12%.
- Coffee helps you live longer. Multiple studies show that caffeine consumption is linked to longevity. Research found that drinking coffee may reduce premature death in women by 26% and in men by 20%. This effect seems to be remarkable, especially in type 2 diabetes patients, as this study shows that coffee drinkers with diabetes have a 30% lower risk of death.
The bottom line
Science has provided us with plenty of evidence in regards to coffee’s health benefits, from reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes to preventing liver disease. However, studies have their limitations and haven’t claimed that coffee on its own can keep your liver safe and sound. Drinking coffee is obsolete without a healthy lifestyle.
Staying away from high-sugar, high-saturated fat, processed foods is the real key to a healthy liver, especially if your good habits are paired with a steamy cup of black filtered coffee.
Siggi Clavien worked in the alcohol industry for 15 years before leaving that world behind and launching Equilibrium Labs in 2010. His aim is to reduce preventable liver disease through a combination of education, research, and product development. You can learn more about how he’s changing things for the better at http://siggiclaviencharities.org/.