A common question people ask is does coffee cause inflammation. To answer it, I consulted with your neighborhood friendly pharmacist (myself!) to unravel the truth. After diving into the latest data and research, here is the detailed overview of what I discovered.
Coffee is beneficial to your health
In general, it seems research has shown that coffee is overall beneficial. Coffee consumption is associated with a number of improved health outcomes ranging from cardiovascular, liver, metabolic, and cancer prevention.
For example, one study found a 25% decreased risk of diabetes in people who drank 4 cups of coffee per day compared to those who didn’t.
Coffee can even reduce your chances of dying from all causes and cardiovascular disease according to this one study, if you drink 3-4 cups of coffee per day! Given that cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of preventative deaths, thats a really good thing.
And if you’re a decaf coffee drinker, the benefits are pretty much the same as well.
Pregnancy is about the only time drinking coffee is probably not a good idea, given consistent data showing babies are born with low birth weights or too early after exposure to coffee.
What makes coffee so special?
Coffee has a lot of beneficial bio active compounds that are probably the reason behind all its benefits. Caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and the diterpenes, cafestol and kahweol are the main contributing compounds that pop up the most often.
So, does coffee cause inflammation?
So based on all that, does coffee really cause inflammation?
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a general term that describes an imbalance in the immune system. The immune system consists of white blood cells (macrophages, T cell, B cells, lymphocytes) complements, interleukins, interferons, TNF (tumor necrosis factor), immunoglobulins and a whole slew of other players in the game designed to regulate fighting infections and dealing with injuries.
Of course, there are a ton of triggers that can cause the immune system to malfunction. Allergens, food, toxins, or just a few.
If coffee were to cause inflammation, it means somehow, coffee has compounds that are triggering the immune system to go crazy.
And that doesn’t seem likely. Why?
1. Coffee contains powerful antioxidants
For one, coffee contains a slew of complex bioactive compounds including the main ones we mentioned earlier: caffeine, chlorogenic acid, cafestol and kahweol. All of these are powerful antioxidants, and phytochemicals that have an anti-inflammatory effect… the opposite of inflammation.
- For example, chlorogenic acid is a well-studied polyphenol with documented anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-diabetic, and anti-carcinogenic effects.
- Cafestol and kahweol are powerful anti-oxidants with anti-cancer properties.
That doesn’t sound like something that could cause inflammation right?
2. Coffee prevents chronic diseases
Secondly, we know that chronic disease states like cardiovascular disease, lipidemia, diabetes, obesity are all basically conditions of long term inflammation. For example:
- Atherosclerotic plaques cause inflammation of coronary arteries and lead to heart disease.
- Excessive glucose in the blood causes injury to the body and the immune system reacts with an inflammatory response.
- Being overweight is a constant state of injury to the body and inflammation.
And according to the data we just described above, coffee plays a beneficial role in preventing and attenuating these chronic diseases.
Piling on, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are said to have their root in an inflammatory process.
Coffee has shown to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease and other cognitive declining disorders.
3. Coffee reduces inflammatory markers
Lastly, this is the cherry on top. Remember we said inflammation consists of many components in the blood. When these markers are elevated it can be a sign of an inflammatory process brewing. (not the good kind of brewing!)
One study looked at the difference in inflammatory bio markers between coffee drinkers (4 cups per day) and non-coffee drinkers.
After evaluating the data from 15,551 women and 7397 men, those who drank coffee had lower levels of inflammatory markers like C reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor, and IL-6 compared to non-coffee drinkers.
So, taking all this evidence together, it’s clear then that:
- Coffee possesses complex substances with significant anti-inflammatory properties.
- Because of these compounds, coffee can reduce the risk of many of the major chronic diseases which have their source in inflammation.
- Coffee has a significant reduction effect on the inflammatory biomarkers in the blood.
So this pharmacist declares no inflammation here folks! As long as you’re not pregnant, brew yourself a delicious cup of coffee and enjoy!
But of course, this is just plain coffee. If you add stuff like sugar, milk, and creamers to your coffee then your risk of inflammation would obviously change.
Coffee Has Never Read This Good!
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“Jules” is a pharmacist by day and investor, writer, and health nut by night. When he’s not sipping on some coffee laced with MCT oil during an 18 hour fast, he is writing about how to get your coffee grind on or playing Monopoly with his 2 boys and wife. Ahh…life is good!