Why Do Coffee Drinkers Live Longer? Scientists May Have an Answer
- Michael Donald - January 24th 2017
It may seem too good to be true for the coffee lovers of the world, but evidence in recent years has pointed to the health benefits of coffee consumption. After years of Mom warning that coffee will stunt your growth and fears that coffee can trigger heart disease and cancer, information about the health benefits of coffee is increasing. Earlier studies may have missed the link between drinking coffee and other risky behavior, such as smoking, but once scientists started to dissect out the data more, some trends started to emerge.
The Benefits of Coffee for Health
Different studies have suggested coffee can reduce the risk of liver disease, Parkinson's disease, and type 2 diabetes, and maybe even decrease the risk of depression and improve mental function. In one of the most revealing coffee studies, researchers published a report in 2015 showing that coffee drinkers, taking in one to five cups a day, actually had lower mortality than the non-coffee drinkers. This seems to suggest that something about drinking coffee increases longevity, but what can the link be?
The Link Between Inflammation and Heart Disease
Researchers at the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection at Stanford University thought coffee may improve longevity by reducing inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease. To study this process, the researchers analyzed blood samples from two groups, one with healthy adults aged 20 to 30 and one with healthy adults over the age of 60. It turns out that a group of genes was more active in the older group, and these genes are associated with an inflammatory protein called IL-1-beta. When the researchers took a closer look at the older adults, they found those with high activity in this gene cluster were much more likely to have high blood pressure and arterial stiffness, meaning they were more at risk for heart attack and stroke than their low gene activity counterparts. Not only that, the participants with more inflammatory protein gene activity had more free radical activity and more metabolites related to these free radicals. These free radicals, which are uncharged molecules, cause cell damage and are often associated with premature aging of the skin, that is, wrinkles. It seems these inflammatory proteins were linked to an increased risk of heart disease, a major contributor to mortality. The researchers confirmed this by using the free radical metabolites to trigger an increase in gene cluster activity, producing more of the IL-1-beta inflammatory protein. Injecting these metabolites into mice triggered high blood pressure, inflammation, and increased renal pressure.
The Link Between Caffeine and Inflammation
On the flipside of this, the researchers looked at how much caffeine the study participants took in. It turned out the participants with low gene cluster activity were more likely to have caffeine metabolites in their blood. The scientists then went on to incubate immune cells with both the caffeine metabolites and the metabolites from free radicals, discovering the caffeine metabolites prevented the inflammation associated with the free radical metabolites. This seemed to suggest that caffeine helped reduce the inflammation that leads to heart disease.
The Link Between Caffeine and Longevity
This study seems to confirm two things: first, that inflammation increases the risk of heart disease which is a major cause of mortality, and second, that caffeine helps reduce this inflammation and therefore the risk of heart disease. This may be the answer to how caffeine helped improve longevity in that previous 2015 study: the caffeine reduced the inflammation, countering the effects of the inflammatory proteins, reducing the risk factors for heart disease, and therefore reducing the risk of death from heart disease. These results are encouraging, not just confirming for coffee drinkers that they may have a healthy habit, but also suggesting that this inflammation that triggers heart disease is treatable. By developing a treatment based on coffee metabolites, researchers could help treat and prevent inflammation and heart disease. Alternatively, the coffee connoiseurs can just continue drinking their daily cup of java.
The Negative Consequences of Coffee on Health
Although coffee consumption seems overall to be beneficial to health, it does have its risks. Adding cream and sugar to coffee can increase calorie consumption, leading to negative health consequences. Boiled coffee or espresso, both unfiltered, may slightly increase cholesterol, and a particular genetic mutation can slow caffeine breakdown in the body, which could potentially affect health. As with all things, coffee drinking can have its positives and its negatives when it comes to health. However, the 2015 study seemed to find the coffee positives outweighed the negatives overall, improving longevity.
Coffee in Cosmetics
Coffee can be rich in antioxidants, whether applied topically or consumed in beverage form. These antioxidants can have anti-aging benefits, helping counteract the free radicals that can cause so much cell damage. One study even suggested oil from a coffee plant can help stimulate skin to retain moisture, contributing to a smoother look and feel. Caffeine may also help stimulate circulation in the eye area, improving the look of tired, puffy eyes. Visit Medica Depot to learn more about ZO® HYDRAFIRM™ EYE BRIGHTENING REPAIR CREME, containing caffeine, silk extract, retinol, and other ingredients that can target signs of aging in the eye area, improving the look of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines for a more youthful appearance.