Coffee and health… a possible combination!
Many of us battle between the pleasure enclosed within a cup of coffee and the many doubts about the effects that coffee may have on health.
There’s good news! The pleasures of coffee can and must be maintained. These are the instructions from some of the top international scientific research entities and institutions. In July 2016 for example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) through the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) came out favourably in support of this hot beverage loved the world over, removing coffee from the group 2B “possibly carcinogenic to humans” where it was classified in 1991, placing it in group 3, that of substances “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans”.
Studies carried out on the potential benefits of caffeine, an alkaloid naturally present in coffee, have demonstrated that this substance can cause a short-lived increase in blood pressure in subjects who suffer from hypertension, while such effect does not occur in those who habitually consume coffee. Furthermore, caffeine facilitates diuresis and the elimination of sodium with the urine (natriuretic effect).
The beneficial properties of coffee do not just derive from the presence of caffeine. Other substances such as potassium, magnesium, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, lignans and solubile fibre contained in the beverage (even in decaffeinated) seem to play an important role in regulating arterial blood pressure thanks to their anti-inflammatory and vasodilating action, as well as a mechanism that brings an improvement to insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.
Even the microbiota, the group of micro-organisms that live in our bodies and are concentrated, for the main part, in the gastrointestinal tract (colon in particular), seem to be positively influenced by the consumption of coffee. Numerous studies show how drinking coffee leads to an increase in the micro-organisms, especially the bifidobacteria. This type of increase is associated with anti-inflammatory effects that, in turn, can mitigate local infections, reduce the procarcinogen processes and seem to lower the levels of error (misfolding) in the Alpha-synuclein in the enteric nervous system, minimising the propagation of protein in the central nervous system and thus reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
The consumption of 3/5 cups of coffee per day seems therefore to be associated with a reduction of the risk from numerous pathologies such as tumours, in particular, of the liver, endometrial cancers (in women) and prostate cancers (in men), cardiovascular illness and those of the central nervous system.
However, some recommendations remain valid, in particular those associated with pregnant or breast-feeding women, as caffeine can cross the placenta and get into breast milk, and for heart patients and those suffering from gastroesophageal reflux, who must limit or avoid caffeine consumption.
We can therefore say that a moderate consumption of coffee (possibly with little or no sugar) can certainly be part of a healthy and balanced diet.