Coffee has gotten something of a bad rap in recent years. It’s accused of possibly containing too much of an addictive chemical (caffeine), creating a dependence upon stimulation to get through one’s day, and possibly being processed via less-than-organic means.
There’s some truth to each of the following, depending upon the quantity, the source, processing methods and the coffee drinker him/herself, among other factors. But now scientists are saying coffee isn’t all bad, and may even be good – at least for the liver.
Drink Your Coffee, Study Says
A revealing 20-year study compiling former with current data and published in F1000 Research showed regular coffee consumption may reduce the risk of two serious liver issues, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer).
Researchers noted that coffee has already been shown to help in cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The newer study shows that coffee can be of benefit to the liver in other ways, particularly prevention.
“…this is the first (liver study) to demonstrate that (coffee) can influence the permeability of the intestine,” researcher Vincenzo Lembo commented in a statement. “The results also show that coffee can reverse NAFLD-related problems such as ballooning degeneration, a form of liver cell degeneration.”
Mice Put Onto an Espresso “Diet”
For the updated study, mice were fed a high-fat diet along with the equivalent of six cups of espresso for an average-weight adult human male.
Two interesting effects were noted: the mice given caffeine not only gained less weight than the control group, they also had fewer signs of liver disease.
This would suggest support for the assertion on the part of weight loss marketers that caffeine could help in controlling one’s weight, though that was not the focus of the study. The more interesting observations involved liver health maintenance in the caffeine-fed mice despite a diet unhealthily high in fat.
A Second Cup?
The study does not suggest very high consumption of caffeine, however. Some people may have caffeine restrictions, and as caffeine is a stimulant, it can give susceptible people the jitters and may negatively impact certain health conditions.
However, if you’ve been given the go-ahead, consume up to 400 mg/day. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee will vary, especially depending upon how strongly it’s brewed (anywhere from 90 to 200 mg/cup), so make sure you know what you’re drinking, doctors suggest.
Another caveat: a healthy diet is always best. It’s uncertain at this time whether the liver-protective effects would have continued of the mice had spent longer periods of time consuming a high-fat diet along with caffeine. Getting control of your diet and your overall health is always best.