(NaturalNews) Patients coming to the Whitaker Wellness Institute sometimes express surprise that we serve coffee. Doesn't it increase the body's acidity? Aren't health-conscious people supposed to drink tea instead? Isn't caffeine bad for you?
If coffee were harmful, then every morning emergency rooms around the world would be choked with people suffering the ill effects of our favorite breakfast beverage. Of course, this isn't the case. Coffee is not harmful. On the contrary, I consider it to be a health food, and hundreds of studies bear this out.
From Protection Against Parkinson's...
Research shows that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson's disease by as much as 80 percent and protects against other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's. It increases insulin sensitivity, and a high intake- at least six cups a day- lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by 54 percent in men and 30 percent in women.
Coffee improves concentration and alertness, boosts mood, and decreases suicide risk. In fact, just the smell of coffee relieves stress in animals. This popular drink also controls asthma and can even halt a full-blown attack in its tracks. Additionally, coffee can stop migraine headaches, curb appetite, prevent tooth decay, and increase the effectiveness of aspirin and other analgesics (Anacin and Excedrin both contain caffeine). And if you drink it before working out, your endurance will improve and you'll have less exercise-induced muscle pain.
...to Increased Longevity
Compared to people who avoid coffee, those who drink at least two cups a day are 80 percent less likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver (even if they drink a lot of alcohol), half as likely to have gallstones, and 25 percent less apt to get colon cancer. Coffee is also protective against cancer of the liver and kidneys, and although it's long been suspected of increasing risk of breast cancer, a recent study spanning 22 years and involving nearly 86,000 women found a weak inverse association between the two in postmenopausal females.
Finally, coffee may even increase longevity. A large 2008 study found that drinking up to six cups of regular or decaffeinated coffee daily is associated with a slightly lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and other causes.
What Makes Coffee So Healthful?
So what is it in coffee that provides such remarkable benefits? First, that cup of java is a terrific source of protective antioxidants. Researchers evaluating both the antioxidant levels of various foods and drinks and the frequency with which those items are consumed have found that the average amount of coffee consumed by American adults per day- 1.64 cups- provides 1,299 mg of antioxidants. Tea, the second richest source, supplied only 294 mg, followed by antioxidant-rich (but sparingly eaten) fruits and vegetables, which provide fewer than 75 mg each of antioxidants per day. Believe it or not, coffee even contains fiber- nearly 2 g per cup.
But these aren't the only components that make coffee a health food. Although some studies reveal that regular and decaffeinated coffee both have benefits, oft-maligned caffeine gives the drink much of its oomph. In addition to perking up the nervous system, caffeine increases the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine and enhances delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and brain.
So, the next time you feel like a cup of Joe, indulge yourself. It's a good way to boost your mood, your energy, and your overall health.
Reference Schardt D. Caffeine: The good, the bad, and the maybe. Nutrition Action Healthletter. March 2008.
About the author
Reprinted from Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. For information on subscribing to this newsletter, visit www.drwhitaker.com or call (800) 539-8219. About the Author Julian Whitaker, MD, is the author of Health & Healing, a monthly newsletter that has reached millions of readers since 1991. He has also written 13 books and hosts The Dr. Whitaker Show, a popular radio program. In 1979, Dr. Whitaker founded the Whitaker Wellness Institute. Today, it is the largest alternative medicine clinic in the United States. To learn more, visit www.whitakerwellness.com or call (800) 488-1500.