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Sun, Dec 21, 2014

LIVING WELL: Coffee has some surprising health benefits


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As I sit to prepare this week’s Thursday column for The Murfreesboro Post, I pour myself a fresh cup of coffee.

As my wife, Ginny, will attest, I am kind of a nut about coffee. I’m not a coffee nut, just a little bit eccentric about coffee.

It seems that I am always in search of the perfect brew. I complain about many of the ones I try to the point that Ginny suggested, “Maybe you don’t really like coffee.”

I like coffee, sort of.

I drink coffee daily, often twice a day. I like the relaxing ritual of enjoying a cup of coffee. But, I don’t like most of the exotic and often high-priced blends that are so popular these days.

My taste in coffee is quite narrow.

My favorite cup of coffee lately is at Stone’s River Country Club.

I attend meetings there weekly and really enjoy the coffee available upstairs. For me, it is a very smooth tasting, non-bitter cup of coffee.

I don’t like bitter tastes, and many strong robust coffees have a heavy bitter aftertaste.

So, my hit or miss relationship with coffee led to this week’s column.

I have read many reports about the health risks and benefits of coffee and wondered what the net effect might be.

Coffee has been shown to be associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Each cup of coffee per day seems to lower the chance by of Type 2 diabetes by about 7 to 10 percent.

It does not appear to be the caffeine that is the positive factor, as this benefit is found with decaffeinated brews as well.

Coffee has a beneficial effect on memory and cognitive performance. This is likely largely due to the caffeine. Most people can attest to the mental pick-up that they feel after a cup of coffee.

For certain types of cancer, particularly liver cancer, and even cirrhosis, coffee has been shown to be preventative. The reason why this is true is not clear.

Coffee also showed a benefit in preventing certain types of skin cancer but not other kinds.

According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease conducted over 20 years in Finland, Alzheimer’s disease is up to 65 percent less likely for people who drink between three to five cups of coffee per day during mid-life.

That is a very positive finding.

If more studies confirm this potential benefit, it could be a significant prevention strategy.

Likewise, regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Recently, studies have indicated a reduced chance of developing the disease as well as improvement in the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease associated with drinking two or more cups a day. This improvement also seems to be associated with the caffeine content.

The summary judgment of coffee might be found in a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May.

In that study, researchers concluded that coffee drinkers who consumed three cups per day or more had a 10 percent lower chance of dying from any cause than those who did not.

However, it  can have negative effects on blood pressure and certain kinds of heart problems.

The acid in coffee can exacerbate gastric problems such as reflux.

For some people, coffee consumption can negatively impact sleep.

So, the research seems to indicate that if you enjoy a cup or two, even three, of Joe, drink up.

But, keep in mind that there are exceptions to every health recommendation, so if coffee or caffeine seem to cause problems for you, see your doctor to find out why.
 
 
 
Tagged under  Coffee, Food, Health, Living Well, Mark Kestner, Voices



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