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In this blog we will talk about the benefits of coffee and other topics related to you enjoying the coffee more.

Coffee May Be Linked to a Longer Lifespan

Good news for all you coffee drinkers out there! The next time someone asks you if you really need that third cup of coffee, you can say yes, because amajor government study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last week suggests that coffee drinkers may live longer than non-coffee drinkers.

We already know that coffee can improve your mood, reduce headaches, control blood sugar, and may help decrease your risk of colon cancer. Other research suggests it may help with memory recall and that it can increase energy expenditure (good news for those trying to lose weight), and that it may help ease the severity of asthma attacks. However, this is the first study that’s ever demonstrated a relationship between coffee consumption and lifespan.

Researchers from the National Institute of Health analyzed the coffee-drinking habits of 400,000 people over a 13-year period, making it the largest study ever of the relationship between coffee and health. Starting in 1995, the researchers collected information from questionnaires filled out by respondents between the ages of 50 and 71 who were members of the American Association of Retired People (AARP). They followed the respondents until 2008, by which point, 52,000 had died.

Ultimately, the researchers found that the respondents who drank coffee regularly also smoked more, ate more red meat than the non-coffee drinkers, consumed fewer fruits and vegetables, exercised less regularly, and drank more alcohol than the non-coffee drinkers. That may sound a bit counterintuitive—after all, those are all behaviors we tend to associate with a lower quality of health. But when controlled for those risks, the researchers found that the more coffee a person drank, the less likely she or he was to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, or diabetes (but not cancer). Overall, men who drank anywhere from two to six cups of coffee regularly were 10 percent less likely to die over the course of the study, while women who drank the same amount were 15 percent less likely to die. So what does this mean? Is your morning cup of coffee literally keeping you alive? Not quite, says nutrition expert and author Amy Hendel.

“When it comes to associational findings, I think it’s better to have a healthy dose of skepticism and wait for follow-up studies,” she says.

The lead author of the study, Neal D. Freedman, told the New York Times that the study shows only an association between coffee consumption and lower risk for disease, so this study doesn’t prove that increasing your intake of coffee will lead to better health.

There are also other variables to consider that could affect the results, says Hendel. “Caffeine itself is an antioxidant, and because of America’s coffee habit, coffee is the No. 1 source of antioxidants in the current American diet, which could be at play in the results of the study.”

Gender and lifestyle habits may also play a role, Hendel suggests. “Women may have other healthier behaviors that contribute to the overall observation, and female hormones may also come into play,” she says.

Because epidemiological studies like this one can be confounded by different variables, it’s hard if not impossible to pinpoint a reason as to why the coffee drinkers in the study lived longer than the non-coffee drinkers. Ultimately, it’s important to realize that this study doesn’t prove that coffee causes you to live longer, nor will drinking three cups of coffee per day erase the effects of long-term bad habits, such as smoking daily or drinking heavily.

So go ahead, indulge in that third cup of coffee (I probably will!). Just don’t forget to follow it up with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.




Coffee racks up points as a cancer killer

In the war against cancer, coffee may turn out to be one of the most beneficial and surprising weapons you never suspected. In just the past eight months, coffee — often lots of it (heaven if you can’t get enough of the stuff) — has been linked to lower rates of four kinds of cancer. We’ve checked the list twice. Here’s what could keep Starbucks’ and Keurig’s businesses nice. Starting with the newest news, coffee seems to be anathema to:

■ Endometrial cancer. Women who have several cups are 25 per cent less likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who don’t finish even one cup. (No, Dr. Mike doesn’t know how someone does that, either.) Dose: at least four cups a day.

■ Prostate cancer. There’s increasing evidence that prostate cancer wants nothing to do with coffee. Just weeks ago, new data came in indicating that coffee — high-test AND decaf — is particularly effective at shooing off the most dangerous kind of prostate cancer. Dose: at least one and ideally up to six cups a day, with/without caffeine.

■ The most common skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma. If cellular trouble has quietly started, caffeinated coffee acts to shut it down. Dose: more than three cups a day.

■ Breast cancer. Heavy coffee drinkers have been linked to a lower risk of certain types of breast cancer after menopause — 20 per cent to 50 per cent lower versus women who have less than a cup a day. Dose: at least five cups a day of regular. Decaf doesn’t do it.
2011 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Coffee vs Diabetes, Depression and Heart Disease

After years of being blamed for contributing to everything from heart disease to alien abduction episodes, good news is brewing for the vilified coffee bean. I want to state right here, right now, that I think the coffee (and espresso) itself is fine, especially if it’s organically grown, the problem is all the other stuff that goes into making your latte palatable or scrumptious. Therein lies the problem for many people.

A recently published Finnish study found that quaffing three to four cups of joe daily can cut one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 27 percent in men and 29 percent in women. Jolt yourself with seven to nine cups per day, (which I’m not advocating) and you’ll sleep with your eyes wide open. Seriously, 7 to 9 cups, and those percentages increase to 33 and 66 percent respectively!

Another study conducted by the University of Sydney in Australia found that a similar daily intake of tea resulted in a 20 percent reduction in the risk for developing diabetes.

Now, percolate on this — a very recent Harvard study also found that consuming five cups a day slashed the risk for diabetes. The scientists found that certain compounds could reduce blood levels of a nasty inflammation substance (interleukin-6) by 60 percent. Just FYI, blood vessel inflammation plays some role in the development of coronary heart disease, so this is a very significant finding.

How can this be you ask? I know, we’ve all heard the litany of dangers associated with coffee consumption: Elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, and homocysteine levels (another inflammation mediator), vasoconstriction, jitteriness, and anxiety which sometimes causing one to hallucinate the aforementioned aliens. Well, as it turns out, these are believed to be only short-term effects. Long-term effects are much better. In fact, the study cites that there isn’t a clear long-term impact on blood pressure. And zapping the interleukin-6 and the inflammation it causes may be why the temporary elevations of cholesterol are rendered innocuous, since it’s believed that the only reason cholesterol clings to your artery walls is because of… drum roll … inflammation!

A new study from the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that women who drink four cups of coffee a day have a 20 percent lower risk of developing depression. A similar study previously done in Finland also correlated caffeine consumption among men with lower incidences of depression and suicide.

Take it leaded like I do, you fellow wild-eyed bean lovers! Decaf coffee does not produce similar results.


Lodi News Sentinel

A Gut Feeling about Coffee – a source of fiber

Earlier this year, Spanish researchers unveiled coffee as a notable source of soluble fiber. Now, a team in Germany confirms the finding and shows that beneficial gut microbes can easily digest the coffee-bean fiber left in brewed liquid and extract its energy for their growth. Because the waste products of that digestion—also called fermentation—can repel some disease-causing bacteria, the new data suggest that coffee drinking might represent more of a benefit than a vice.

However, be forewarned: Coffee won’t supply your recommended daily intake of fiber—almost 30 grams. Four cups of coffee provide only 7 percent of that. Two cup’s worth does provide the soluble-fiber equivalent of an apple, banana, plum, or half-cup of cooked lentils. Unlike coffee, those other foods also provide substantial amounts of insoluble fiber, the type that serves as roughage to scour out the digestive plumbing. Still, coffee may provide a good start for accumulating the day’s fiber needs.

For its new study, the German team filter-brewed coffee, freeze-dried the liquid, and then used chemical techniques to extract its microscopic fibers. Upon analysis, most of the fibers turned out to be indigestible polysaccharides. These are complex chains of sugar molecules that serve as building blocks of plants’ cell walls.

To find out whether beneficial bacteria in the gut would consume and thrive on this fiber, the researchers isolated a mix of those bacteria from human feces and placed them into a fermentation vessel with a growth broth. These microbes possess enzymes that can, in the absence of oxygen, ferment energy-rich materials into organic acids. The researchers then added 1.5 milligrams of coffee fibers per milliliter of broth to some of the fermentation vessels.

In an upcoming issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers report that gut-friendly bacteria belonging to groups called Bacteroides and Prevotella got a 60 percent growth boost during the 24 hours after encountering coffee fibers. Other beneficial bacteria showed no such growth spurt, indicating they didn’t find the coffee fiber particularly appetizing.

The primary fermentation products of microbes dining on coffee fibers were short-chain fatty acids—notably acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. Previous research has indicated that such substances “play a key role in maintaining gut health,” notes team leader Mirko Bunzel, who recently moved to the University of Minnesota.

“The most important message of this paper,” he says, “is that coffee’s dietary fiber is really a good [food] for gut microflora.” In terms of health, he concludes, ingesting coffee’s fiber is “a good thing.”

Likely gut reactions

Bunzel’s group identified many of the microbes fermenting coffee fiber as Bacteroides. These bacteria typically reside in the oxygenfree environment of the colon, where they help break down food and even supply some vitamins and other nutrients that the body can’t make on its own. The most numerous of colon dwellers, the microbes also break down bile acids: compounds that the liver releases to absorb fats in the gut.

Bacteroides can even prove beneficial simply by edging out other germs. As the friendly bugs cover intestinal walls, they leave little room for harmful bacteria to colonize. By churning out acids, Bacteroides also lower the gut’s pH to an acidity that many other germs can’t abide.

“It’s not really surprising that Bacteroides really like coffee’s fibers, because they’re the most common bacteria involved in polysaccharide breakdown,” Bunzel told Science News Online.

Research by other investigators has been pointing to a host of health benefits from diets rich in polysaccharides. For instance, soluble dietary fiber improves insulin sensitivity—at least in animals with diabeteslike symptoms. Soluble polysaccharide fibers also form gels that make the gut feel full and a dieter less likely to overeat.

Animal and test-tube studies have both indicated that the butyric acid produced by many fiber-noshing microbes—including Bacteroides—decreases the risk that colon cancer cells will turn cancerous. Finally, animal studies have linked consumption of soluble fiber to a heightened ability of the gut to absorb calcium and of the body to transform the pigments in some consumed vegetables into vitamin A.

All of this should be good news to coffee drinkers. But will tea drinkers like me derive a similar benefit from our favorite beverage? That’s unlikely, Bunzel says, because brewed tea doesn’t seem to have fiber. However, he points to a paper that the Spanish group published last year in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulturethat might offer an alternative to both tea and coffee: wine.

I prefer red wines, and that’s the type that M. Elena Díaz-Rubio and Fulgencio Saura-Calixto identified as containing the most soluble polysaccharides. Indeed, the five types of red wine they tested boasted 3.5 to 5 times as much fiber as the three white vintages in the study. However, for perspective, even the most fiber-rich red contained only about three-quarters as much soluble fiber as an equivalent volume of filter-brewed coffee.



Women who drink coffee are happier…

Oh joy! Some rare good news – and for women, believe it or not! From that messenger of repeated gloom where we’re concerned – medical science. The news even made my morning cup of coffee taste better. Caffeine is good for you. It’s particularly good at warding off depression.

New research from the Harvard School of Public Health, based on data from a large cohort – nearly 51,000 women – shows that those who regularly drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day have a 20% lower risk of clinical depression than non-drinkers.

The epidemiological study tracked the women over a period of 10 years from 1996, taking detailed health information every two years, not only on their caffeine intake and depression risk factors but on overall health, weight, use of hormones, exercise and SMOKING!. Over the decade, 2,607 cases of clinical depression were diagnosed, 20% less of it in the heavy coffee drinkers. Sadly there’s no statistical breakdown on whether it’s espresso, latte or cappuccino that’s most effective.

Caffeine, it has long been known, activates the release of various neurotransmitters – such as dopamine and serotonin – related to mood. Back during the second world war, as Nicolas Rasmussen details in his book On Speed, research aimed at getting the most effective performance out of soldiers showed it was more greatly enhanced and exhaustion-reduced by caffeine than by amphetamines – though the latter were preferred as being less addictive!

More recent Finnish research on a small cohort, this time of 2,200 men, has shown that heavy coffee drinkers had a significantly lower risk of severe depression. So coffee works on both sexes, it seems, though this study of men was too small to be statistically significant. Not unlinked to depression is the 1996 study of some 86,000 American nurses which reported that increasing coffee consumption lowers the risk of suicide in women – though after eight cups it apparently increases again.

What depresses me – not clinically, mind you – about these studies is that they’re underpinned by a chemical view of the human. Women, of course, with their hormones and reproductive organs have long been considered the most “chemical” of all. In this view, life’s journey becomes a matter of the vagaries of our hormones or our neurotransmitters.

As the scientists will also tell you, neurotransmitters respond to everything: hugs, kisses, conversation, books, pictures, gardening, hunger, worry, rows, war – all raise or lower chemical levels. But somehow these don’t make it into medico-scientific studies. That’s not the researchers’ fault, needless to say: it’s just the way our druggy society, with its drug-sponsored research organisations, has decided to measure things.

But it would have been interesting if, along with measuring the women’s coffee consumption in relation to depression, this latest research had asked: was the coffee drunk alone? With friends? At a cafe? In other words: socially or medicinally? And was the depression to which over 2,000 of the women succumbed linked in any way to work or the lack of it, to difficulties with partners or children, to loneliness, to poverty? Extreme sadness is rarely just a chemical affair, though of course like everything else in the world, it’s linked to chemistry.

For me, the most interesting and indeed mysterious part of this study is the authors’ claim that regular coffee drinkers were also more likely to smoke and drink alcohol, and were less likely to be involved in church, volunteer or community groups. Now what can that mean? Does nicotine and alcohol also lower the risk of depression? Or is it that imbibers of coffee, nicotine and alcohol have a jolly old time of it and aren’t as prone to be overwhelmed by life’s downs?

But wait a minute: those US women who regularly drink coffee don’t seem to be the ones who pray and do good together. Can this be? And does this mean that the latter will produce the one in five US women overall who, statistics tell us, will succumb to depression? All this makes me worry whether the NHS will soon be picking up the tab for the “big society”. And whether supposedly scientific comments of this sort serve little purpose except to coax women into a state the doctors can then medicate.

The Guardian

Caffeine may help with weight loss…

Coffee is very controversial when it comes to weight loss. Some say that it can be of benefit to dieters, while others say that it can be detrimental to weight loss. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Hollywood’s most famous twins, are said to have attributed their high metabolisms to drinkingup to four Starbucks drinks a day. So what’s the bottom line?

Caffeine, which reportedly speeds up metabolism, is the most-active ingredient in many diet pills.

Caffeine breaks down fat, freeing fatty acids which are immediately burned. Conversion of fat to energy is about 30 percent more efficient when caffeine is consumed prior to exercise. Which brings up another caffeine caveat: The break-down, and the burning, occur only when you’re in action! Caffeine also decreases your perception of pain during exercise. This might explain why fitness competitors routinely down a cup of java right before exercise!

Caffeine also improves mental alertness and reduces your perception of fatigue. While the fat is being burned, the glycogen, glucose, and amino acids (blood sugars) are being reserved, so blood sugar levels remain higher for longer. Low blood sugar = hunger; high glucose staves starving. This is why coffee is popular among students and think-tankers. The brain functions exclusively on glucose, and it is said that higher blood sugar levels facilitate thinking.

The coffee research found that consumption of ground caffeinated coffee appeared to have an independent relationship with weight loss. The findings implied that the caffeine present in coffee may help people to decrease body weight. But no studies show any indication that weight loss from large amounts of caffeine is permanent or significant. There is also no documented evidence that increasing caffeine intake by itself can have any effect on weight loss. According to the scientists, older and younger men show a similar thermogenic response to caffeine ingestion, whereas older men show a smaller increase in fatty acid availability after a caffeine challenge. Caffeine intake in this study was assessed repeatedly every 2-4 years. The researchers found a lower mean weight gain in participants who increased their consumption of caffeine than in those who decreased their caffeine consumption. Scientist, David Costill, found that consuming 2 cups of coffee about 1 hour before a run can boost your endurance-possibly by encouraging your body to burn more fat and less glycogen for fuel.

A study conducted by the Canadian government found that soldiers who consumed caffeine in the 12 hours prior to a physical-fitness test not only were able to work out longer before becoming exhausted, but also consumed more oxygen while working out. The body’s oxygen requirements are directly related to the speed of your metabolism, so the more oxygen you use, the more calories you burn during exercise.

An excess of coffee increases urinary secretion. For some who are battling weight, diuretics may seem like friendly allies, but in reality, harsh diuretics like coffee may do more harm than good. When you urinate too often, you lose magnesium, potassium, sodium, and Vitamin B1.

Caffeine also stimulates the adrenal glands, which increases the body’s fight-or-flight response. This “fight or flight” response causes the body to release sugar into the blood as muscle fuel. If you don’t use this sugar, the sugar triggers a release of insulin. This leads to temporary signs of a condition called insulin resistance. As well as making weight loss more difficult, some experts believe that insulin resistance increases can your risk of both type II diabetes and heart disease.

If you want to lose weight, you have fundamentally two options, diet and exercise. It appears from the research conducted so far, that drinking small amounts of coffee may be beneficial to weight loss.

So go ahead and have that cup of coffee, just go easy on the extras. Bear in mind, that it is the cream and sugar that becomes fattening. Think of it this way, when you have a cup of coffee or tea with cream and two cubes of sugar, you are essentially eating a piece of chocolate cake every time, yikes!


Caffeine Lowers Risk of Skin Cancer: Coffee-based Sunscreen Might Work Best

There might be a time when instead of just drinking that morning cup of coffee you lather it on your skin as a way of preventing harmful sun damage or skin cancer.

A new Rutgers study strengthens the theory that caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level by inhibiting a protein enzyme in the skin, known as ATR. Scientists believe that based on what they have learned studying mice, caffeine applied directly to the skin might help prevent damaging UV light from causing skin cancer.

Prior research indicated that mice that were fed caffeinated water and exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation that damaged the DNA in their skin cells were able to kill off a greater percentage of their badly damaged cells and reduce the risk of cells becoming cancerous.

“Although it is known that coffee drinking is associated with a decreased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, there now needs to be studies to determine whether topical caffeine inhibits sunlight-induced skin cancer,” said Allan Conney, director of the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research.

In this newly-published study, instead of inhibiting ATR with caffeinated water, Rutgers researchers, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Washington, genetically modified and diminished ATR in one group of mice. The results: the genetically modified mice developed tumors more slowly than the unmodified mice, had 69% fewer tumors than regular mice and developed four times fewer invasive tumors.

The study also found, however, that when both groups of mice were exposed to chronic ultraviolet rays for an extended period of time, tumor development occurred in both the genetically modified and regular mice. What this seems to indicate, says Conney, is that inhibiting the ATR enzyme works best at the pre-cancerous stage before UV-induced skin cancers are fully developed.

According to the National Cancer Institute, sunlight-induced skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States with more than 1 million new cases each year. Although multiple human epidemiologic studies link caffeinated beverage intake with significant decreases in several different types of cancer, including skin cancer, just how and why coffee protects against the disease is unknown.

“Caffeine might become a weapon in prevention because it inhibits ATR and also acts ad as a sunscreen and directly absorbs damaging UV light,” said Conney.