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We are often told by people around us to not drink too much coffee because of all the bad things that it is responsible for causing in our bodies. Most of the bad press about coffee regularly talks about the relatively high caffeine content and that consuming too much coffee can lead to tiredness, fatigue, panic attacks and even caffeine addiction, if there is indeed such a thing.
However, good news for coffee lovers and drinkers has emerged recently from clinical studies conducted by Dr Fumihiko Horio and colleagues at the Department of Applied Molecular Bio-science, Nagoya University, Japan, showing that drinking a few cups of coffee each day can help reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 67%. It has been widely acknowledged that diabetes is a lifestyle disease that can be largely prevented with proper diet and exercise. In any case it affects millions of Americans today and the epidemic appears to be getting worse.
The news that several studies, including research conducted at the UCLA School of Public Health in the US, have shown that drinking coffee can help reduce diabetes will be welcome reassurance to diabetic coffee drinkers at the very least.
Researchers who made the claim say that coffee or the actual bean, from which it is derived, contains a high level of antioxidants called polyphenols. The mineral magnesium is also found in coffee and may also be involved in the protective process.
It is the chemical process of these antioxidants within the human body which can help reduce oxidative stress within the body cells. The neutralizing effect of these polyphenols plays an important part in the protection against the development of type II diabetes. It should be noted however that some research is showing that the addition of milk to coffee reduces these protective effects because the milk binds the antioxidants together rendering them useless.
If we are talking about type II diabetes and the role which coffee can play in its prevention, we must first understand a little of how diabetes develops. The diagnosis of type II diabetes is made when the cells in the human body show a resistance to the hormone insulin.
This hormone is the regulator or controller of the blood sugar levels within the body and a carrier of glucose to the cells. However, as insulin resistance develops the pancreas tries to compensate for this by producing larger quantities of insulin but this may still not be enough to control and regulate the blood sugar level within the body.
This results in a mass of glucose molecules to accumulate in the cells and the diagnosis of diabetes is hence made. Through mechanisms not yet fully understood by researchers, somehow the effect of drinking coffee appears to slow down the onset of type II diabetes. This could be due in part to the high amount of chlorogenic acid found in coffee which helps reduce glucose levels in the blood.
In a previous study, Frank Hu, MD, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, Massachusetts and published in the journal of ADA (American Diabetes Association), conducted a study on the association between drinking coffee and developing the risk of diabetes, which was observed in around 90,000 people aged between 26 and 46. The study found that the risk of diabetes was reduced in the proportion to the number of cups consumed.
Even just one cup of coffee was found to reduce the risk of diabetes by 7%. People who drank more than three to four cups a day had a nearly 20% lower diabetes risk. This study was both applicable to caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee so suggesting that other elements, for example magnesium and chlorogenic acid, within the coffee, rather than the caffeine itself, are the primary factors in this protection against diabetes.
Several studies have also found that coffee may be beneficial in other ways too in the fight against heart disease, headaches, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer. So if anyone tells you that coffee is not good for you, you can persuade them otherwise with this research. Until then, enjoy your next cup of coffee and I’ll have mine black please!