I felt mightily deprived when I transitioned to a whole food, plant-based diet. I imagined a nasty gremlin sitting across the table from me, pulling away my favorite foods. Goodbye steak, goodbye sour cream-laden baked potato, so long cheesy pizza with pepperoni (sob). I told my husband if that gremlin even touches my coffee, I’ll break its wrist!

Fortunately, the gremlin and I became friends and it never interfered with my addictive love of God’s best invention. Turns out, the little bugger knew something I didn’t. And now I share it with you. So, pour yourself a ‘cuppa and read on.

How to prepare your brew

Since I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, I use a French press. According to Dr. Greger at www. Nutrition facts.org., coffee has a fat-soluble, cholesterol raising compound called cafestol. Using a paper filter helps to remove much of the cafestol, compared to the French press method. Time to resurrect my percolator! https://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-coffee-affect-cholesterol/.

Does coffee consumption cause, prevent, or mitigate diseases?

  • Liver disease: Liver disease can include fatty liver disease (obesity is a factor), too much alcohol consumption, Hepatitis B or C, or liver cancer. In a randomized, controlled study on Hepatitis C and coffee consumption, it appeared coffee reduces DNA damage from oxidative stress (too many free radicals that harm cells), increases virus infected cell death (apoptosis), and stabilizes chromosomes. This decreases the risk of fibrosis. Some studies showed a decreased risk of liver cancer as well. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-liver-cancer-with-coffee/.
  • Anti-aging properties: According to Dr. Greger, in his book, How Not to Die[1], (pp 431-434) the National Institute of Health and AARP Study found people who drank 6 or more cups of coffee/day had a lower (10%-15%) mortality rate from various diseases, including accidents (being more alert??). However, it seems for people younger than 50, the opposite is true, and they recommend less than 4 cups per day.

In his book, Eat to Beat Disease[2] (pp 205-206), Dr. William Li discusses telomeres and their role in aging. Think of telomeres as being like the end caps of shoelaces. These “end caps” of chromosomes shorten as we age. The National Health and Nutrition Survey showed “drinking more coffee was associated with longer telomeres.” Longer the telomeres, the longer you live. The large, ongoing Nurses’ Health Study backed up this finding as well.

  • Mental Acuity, Energy, Stress: For many suffering Covid induced solitude, and those of us “of a certain age,” there is good news for coffee drinkers. In Eat to Beat Disease, Dr. Li notes that people who drink 2 or more cups of coffee a day appeared to have ½ the suicide risk compared to non-coffee drinkers (pp235-236). Dr. Mark Hyman, in FOOD What the Heck Should I Eat? [3]notes coffee lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s (among other diseases – pp 241-242).

To stay alert and function well at four in the morning when I worked the night shift, I drank my share of coffee — thus protecting my patients! However, drinking three bottles of “energy drinks” rather than a cup of coffee, could be fatal.

  • Parkinson’s Disease: In How Not to Die, Dr. Greger writes of 19 studies that show how coffee contributes to the prevention and management of Parkinson’s disease (pp272-273). It seems coffee could reduce risk of getting Parkinson’s by 1/3. Furthermore, drinking the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee (or 4 cups of black tea or 8 of green tea) may improve a Parkinson’s patient movement and symptoms in a mere three weeks. Pharmaceutical companies have tried to condense the caffeine in drugs, but their efforts have not proven to be better than drinking the beverages. (I’ve read elsewhere this is due to the “entourage effect” of a whole food that brings other substances to the body to enhance its effect.)
  • For other conditions, such as epilepsy, urinary incontinence, epilepsy and more, visit Greger’s U tube video at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vChL6A_BWxs&feature=emb_rel_pause.

I could go on, but I need a coffee break.

[1] How Not to Die, Michael Greger, MD with Gene Stone, Pan Books © 2015

[2] Eat to Beat Disease, William W. Li MD, Grand Central Publishing ©2019

[3] FOOD What the Heck Should I Eat?  Mark Hyman MD, Little Brown and Company © 2018