Could Your Daily Cup of Joe Be Life-Enhancing?
For years, food experts taught us that certain foods were bad for us, especially when we aged. Coffee was at the top of the list. It produced high blood pressure, which could only get worse as one aged. As a stimulant, millions of people use coffee to wake up in the morning, but as they age, the same stimulant can cause rapid heart beats, palpitations, and a natural loss of sleep in older people, which made some doctors recommend foregoing the brown elixir of life. The connection with its ability to revive the waking dead seemed relegated to healthy, young, people, intent on enhancing their busy days, until new research really did put Java back on the map as an aid to longer life.
The Fountain of Youth is Made of Coffee
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked 400,000 50 to 71-year-olds for their coffee habit and correlated it to their lifespans with interesting results. The study began in 1995 and was completed in 2008, spanning over a decade of research. During that time, some people died, from a variety of causes, providing valuable information on how coffee helps to lengthen lifespan. About 90 percent of the participants drank coffee, while others drank tea. As the study progressed, the statistics showed that if you were a participant in the study drinking 3 or 4 cups of coffee per day, your chances of dying from heart disease, respiratory disease, and even diabetes was 10 percent less than the average population. The only risk of dying that increased was a slight increase for cancer in men, whereas for women the rate of cancer associated with coffee drinking was the same as the normal population.
Is Caffeine Life-Enhancing?
No one is suggesting that it is the caffeine in coffee is producing these results. However, as one article on WebMD suggests, “Coffee may be part of the recipe for longer life.” It’s probably not just the caffeine in the brown bean doing its magic, however, as the study doesn’t differentiate between coffee and the different compounds within the coffee bean that could be aiding in increasing long life. Caffeine is known to be a stimulant that can increase palpitations so that it does play a part in increasing blood pressure. However, what part it plays in the ability to decrease the risk of death by 10 percent is not clear. It could actually be other compounds within the coffee that are having the positive effect, like the antioxidants it provides. With the standard American diet being somewhat low in antioxidants, a Java habit of two to four cups of coffee per day can significantly boost your antioxidant levels. There is plenty of medical research that proves that antioxidants are one of the major scavengers of free radicals in the body, that when present in large amounts produce signs of aging. Antioxidants are normally found in fruits and vegetables. However, now it appears you can get the same benefits from drinking coffee, along with adding hundreds of other compounds present in coffee that may be life-affirming, even if no research has been done on them.
While the decrease in dying from heart disease, stroke, diabetes was great news, there are still other reasons to drink coffee. One thing is certain, coffee drinkers who had no other risk factors that might have impacted their lifespans, like smoking and drinking, showed that fewer people in the study also died from:
- Respiratory disease,
- Infections, and
- Accidents and injuries.
Should You Start Drinking Coffee?
The good news is that even decaf coffee provided the same correlation of benefits. So, if your doctor has told you that you should stop drinking coffee to help you get to sleep at night or to reduce palpitations, you can still switch to decaf and maintain some of the positives of your coffee habit without the negative effects that happen as you age. Coffee may be a miracle beverage, but it won’t produce the same results if you are already in a high-risk group when you start drinking it regularly. However, coffee has long been known to elevate your mood and give a kick-start to your day. So, if you’re having trouble waking up in the morning and just want to feel better, it’s nice to know that adding coffee to your diet isn’t likely to cause your doctor to frown as much as in years past.
Rubin, R. (2012) Coffee May Be Part of the Recipe for Longer Life. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20120516/coffee-may-be-part-of-recipe-for-longer-life