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6 Reasons to Drink Coffee

(Hint: it’s good for you!)

So often have we been told that coffee is ‘bad for us’ that it’s become totally ingrained in our collective psyche. The upshot of that is, it’s deemed one of life’s guilty pleasures. The thing is, it’s totally wrong. I’m afraid, the days are numbered for the coffee soothsayers. In fact, anyone clinging to the idea that coffee is bad for us, is simply exposing their inability to comprehend, or in fact even acknowledge the existence of, the actual nutritional research about coffee.

Before I wax lyrical about the health benefits of coffee, I should just point out that coffee isn’t for everyone. Examples include pregnant and breastfeeding women (where caffeine intake should be restricted), those sensitive to the effects of caffeine (say, leading to anxiety or insomnia), and possibly those with certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure or osteoporosis. But whilst some people may need to avoid or restrict coffee, for the rest of us, the bulk of research shows that coffee is more healthful than harmful, and here are six reasons why.

1. Diabetes protection: Regular coffee drinking is associated with a striking protective effect against diabetes risk, greater than 60% in some studies (1). The effect appears to be dose-dependent, with a meta-analysis of 18 studies, incorporating almost half a million subjects, finding that every additional cup of coffee per day was associated with a 7% reduction in risk (2).

2. Hydration: It’s a total fallacy that caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, have a diuretic effect and dehydrate the body. It’s another example of a fictitious nutrition myth. In people who consume them regularly, caffeinated drinks such as coffee, hydrate the body and count perfectly well toward our daily fluid intake (3).

3. Brain protector: There is growing research that coffee drinking proffers protection against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s (4, 5).

4. Antioxidants and phytonutrients: The classic mistake is to think that coffee = caffeine, end of. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Coffee is a veritable treasure chest of naturally occurring antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients, notably rich in the polyphenol chlorogenic acid. Blueberries and green tea step aside, we have a new antioxidant heavyweight in town.

5. Liver protector: The weird and wonderful world of ‘detoxing’ decrees that abstinence from coffee is mandatory if you are serious about ridding the body of toxins. How ironic then to discover that phytonutrient-rich coffee, rather than being a toxic nasty, is in fact likely to protect the liver, our organ of detoxification, from diseases such as cirrhosis and even liver cancer (6).

6. Ergogenic aid: There can be no doubt that caffeine is effective when it comes to enhancing sporting performance, making it one of the few true ergogenic aids. Although pure caffeine is more effective than coffee (derivatives of chlorogenic acids, which can interfere with caffeine’s stimulatory actions, are produced from the roasting process of coffee beans), at least all the other health benefits of coffee’s rich polyphenol content are enjoyed when you stick with drinking the black stuff.

Be under no illusion, a cuppa joe is more friend than foe.

(1) Smith B et al (2006) Diabetes Care 29:2385-2390
(2) Huxley R et al (2009) Arch Intern Med 169(22)2053-2063
(3) Grandjean AC et al (2000) Journal of the American College of Nutrition 19(5):591-600
(4) Patil H et al (2011) Mo Med 108(6):431-8
(5) Wirdefeldt K et al (2011) Eur J Epidemiol 26 Suppl 1:S1-58
(6) Masterton GS and Hayes PC (2010) Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 22(11):1277-83
(7) Goldstein ER et al (2010) J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 5.

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Glen has a Masters Degree in Nutritional Medicine, and is also trained as a Nutritional Therapist, graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION).
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Glen’s work spans private practice, corporate consultancy, lecturing, writing and broadcasting, including numerous TV appearances. Glen is an established writer who contributes to a number of publications, and is the author of two books, The 100 Foods You Should Be Eating and The Health Delusion. Glen is co-founder and director of the pioneering health information blog HealthUncut.com and is an expert blogger for the Huffington Post.
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Glen focuses on the importance of taking an individualised approach to promote optimal health, focusing on the underlying causes of health problems, rather than just the symptoms. Glen provides his clients with comprehensive, personalised and highly sophisticated nutritional programmes, reflecting the latest scientific evidence and current thinking.
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Glen holds regular nutrition clinics at KX gym.
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