Coffee Has Health Benefits for Liver Disease and Cancer
There are so many things to be avoided with liver disease. It is pretty exciting news when I run across something that I love to indulge in that actually helps my liver! When a report came out last year and made huge headlines stating that coffee had benefits for the liver, it relieved a lot of my fears. Not that I had ever stopped drinking coffee. There have been hints for years that it was good for us. But now there was finally evidence based medical research to back it up. Coffee is a major source of antioxidants, helps reduce the risk of liver cancer, can improve hepatic encephalopathy, and even has fibrosis reversal benefits! Pour a cup and let’s look at the big story of how coffee has health benefits for liver disease and cancer.
I admit that I am powerless over coffee. I have shamelessly indulged. It helped a lot when I read years ago that a cup of coffee can improve memory and help on projects where focus is required. It is not surprising that it just flat out makes us feel good, right? Mood enhancement is healthy for me and those around me. Those facts, and now a promise of living longer and reducing the risk of cancer? Heck yes! That is enough for me to analyze the ins and outs of coffee drinking.
I copped a coffee buzz and began to break down medical research and find out WHY coffee is so good for me. I have been studying the effects of coffee on liver disease since my diagnosis with End Stage Cirrhosis in 2010. I managed to get rid of the Hepatitis C virus with the new treatment and did not have to have a transplant yet. All of the reading and then applying what I learn really helps me with the liver loving diet. That includes beverages like juice and green tea as well.
Some data put out in 2007 spoke in favor of coffee having the possibility of positive effects on the liver. Then when millions of American Baby Boomers started being diagnosed with Hepatitis C all of a sudden there was more money poured into java research. I guess the rising rate of liver damage caused researchers to start brewing a new pot of information!
It is not surprising that the new studies showed that those who drank more than 2 cups of coffee daily had less than half the rate of chronic liver disease than those who drank less than 1 cup daily. There was a SLOWER rate of hepatic fibrosis progression for patients who consumed more than 2 cups of caffeinated coffee! Not only has coffee been associated with a decrease in a number of liver diseases, but its consumption also may decrease liver-related deaths. But wait, there’s more. It is shown to reduce the overall risk of death in general. Maybe if we can drink enough coffee, we will be like Benjamin Button and get younger and younger.
Not all cups of coffee are created equal. It proved hard to study coffee drinking. When you think about it, some people brew theirs strong, while others like a weaker cup of coffee. The brand and process used to roast the beans and the grind them can vary greatly. I had a few questions and dug out the answers.
What’s the Best Brewing Method? Using a paper coffee filter is always best because it reduces the amount of cholesterol forming products. Google diterpines for the full story, but you can trust me on this. I had to put away my French press even though it does give a full bodied flavor. About espresso: one study proved that patients who drank a regular cup of java fared much better than those who drank espresso. I got rid of the espresso maker.
How much? The study followed people with liver disease over a 19 year period. It showed that drinking two or more cups a day of regular brewed coffee is good. The patients who drank 1 cup a day had twice the rate of chronic liver disease at the end of the study.
What kind? I drink a lot of coffee. I even have a couple of coffee bean grinders and like to make it fresh in the mornings when I am not working. It can get expensive. I go ahead and purchase organic when I can find it on sale. But I tend to buy one of the major brands also. I mix them for a better flavor and to avoid getting too many pesticides and other harmful toxins. I do not like to think about it, but it is the truth. Of course we would all like fresh ground organic coffee. It is just not always affordable. Set a coffee budget and do what works for you.
Here are some tips to optimize the health benefits of coffee for liver disease and cancer.
- Use less sugar – Try Stevia or coconut oil to sweeten your coffee. Artificial sweeteners are not that good for your liver. I do not even keep sugar or sweeteners in my home. I have a little bit of Stevia and have really almost gotten used to drinking coffee with very little added. It takes some time, but your taste buds do adjust with time. I still love a powdered cappuccino. English Toffee is my fave and it only takes about ½ Tablespoon for a 10 ounce cup. I use a BIG ole coffee mug.
- Add some cocoa or cinnamon – Cocoa adds that chocolatey rich flavor without being bad for you. Cinnamon is actually a great enhancement for coffee and is also good for your blood sugar levels. I work with Native Americans who use it in their coffee to help fight diabetes. It’s no wonder that most of the coffee chains have a shaker of it near the cream.
- Avoid cream – You saw that one coming. A little almond or rice milk is a much better alternative. It does not have the fat, artery choking ingredients either. Before I was diagnosed with liver disease, I kept the creamers in every flavor in my fridge. Now it is just the powder cappuccino and almond milk.
- Cut it out after 3:00 – Late afternoon or evening coffee may keep you awake. Your body and mind seem to resist the natural wave of sleep that gradually comes on after dinner. Allow your body to slowly wind down.
Decaf or Not? What about decaffeinated? According to the Clinical Gastroenterology Journal the coffee has to have caffeine to see the benefits. It seems that the liver is best protected with a jolt of java vs a warm cup of decaf. There are just not as many benefits for decaf! Read the ratio on the link provided below if you like stats. The bottom line is that there were no real associations between improved liver function and decaf.
Are there any drawbacks? All of these stats are cool, but I wanted to know about the downside to drinking coffee. I have always been a decaf drinker for the most part. My liver disease caused heart palpitations for years. I did not know that is what was causing it at the time. Reducing caffeine helped me feel less jittery and my heart did not skip a beat or get erratic. Caffeine is known to raise your blood pressure also. That is a huge factor for portal vein hypertension. I’m on Nadolol for that and go ahead and indulge in 2 or 3 cups of caffeinated in the morning and decaf after that. If caffeine interrupts your sleep pattern, you may have problems due to reverse sleep pattern caused by Hepatitis C or Cirrhosis.
I am a java loving fool and have been since my first midnight shift at the hospital where I got hooked. When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I flew in and out of Seattle a lot and drank a lot of Starbucks. My friends who lived in Boise taught me the fine art of choosing a blend. Yes. I am a self proclaimed coffee snob.
If you are already a coffee drinker, go for it! It can increase mental clarity and speed up your thinking. If you do not like coffee, then you may want to consider a cup a day just for the coffee health benefits for liver and cancer. Come over to my house. Do you know how much I would love that? I grind up fresh beans and we will cuss and discuss all of our health struggles and victories. We will definitely be healthier for it.
Believe me, I am counting on sipping on a cup when the alarm goes off at 5:00 A.M. The best part of waking up… you know the song. Love you more. Xo Karen:)
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