From its flavor and aroma to its ability to provide an energy boost, coffee is the obvious choice for the perfect start to your daily routine. But coffee is more than a source of energy and comfort — it’s good for you, too.
Coffee consumption has been deemed both bad and good. Unfortunately, drinking coffee has been caught up in a few myths, such as stunted growth, dehydration, and insomnia. Worst of all, people still claim it has no health benefits.
Rest assured, these myths have been debunked.
Increasingly, studies suggest coffee can provide several health benefits. In fact, coffee has been linked to a lower risk of inflammation, a hallmark of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Let’s take a look at coffee’s role in inflammation and how to make sure you’re drinking coffee without contributing to your body’s inflammatory response.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation signals the body’s defense or immune system springing into action — it’s the body’s natural process of combatting anything potentially harmful. This can include anything from a bug bite to a pathogen.
In addition, a normal inflammatory response means that the healing process has begun.
However, problems begin when the body lives in a state of chronic low levels of inflammation, known as systemic chronic inflammation (SCI). This state occurs due to a combination of environmental, lifestyle, and dietary factors.
If left untreated, chronic inflammation can lead to chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, neurological diseases, and type 2 diabetes.
What are the side effects of inflammation? Side effects of acute inflammation are typically pain, stiffness, and swelling. Chronic inflammation may cause fatigue, weight gain, stomach issues, and more.
Coffee’s Effect on Inflammation [The Science]
In general, coffee does not cause inflammation. Certain compounds in coffee may actually reduce inflammation and protect against disease.
Though it’s difficult to pinpoint precisely how coffee impacts inflammation, studies appear to have promising results.
One review of over 8 studies suggests a few key compounds in coffee, especially chlorogenic acid, may actually reduce inflammation.
A 2016 review noted that consumption of coffee aids in metabolic health, which is closely related to all-body inflammation levels.
Studies have consistently shown coffee may increase glucose tolerance and strengthen satiety hormones (the hormones that help you feel full longer after eating).
In short, coffee can help manage blood sugar levels and hunger pangs.
According to the American Cancer Society, coffee has been connected to a lowered risk of breast, liver, and prostate cancers.
One 2017 study concluded that coffee consumption was related to a lower risk of mortality overall. This isn’t necessarily connected to inflammation, but it’s a promising statistic.
For the time being, the effects of coffee on inflammation are tentatively positive.
Does coffee cause inflammation in the stomach? Coffee can cause inflammation in the stomach from high levels of acidity. However, everyone reacts differently to drinks that have a high acid content.
What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body? Reducing inflammation in the body depends on wellness tactics like:
- Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet (leafy greens, fruits, veggies, and fish)
- Increasing exercise levels
- Getting more rest
- Eliminating stressors
Such holistic lifestyle changes should aid in curbing inflammation. However, remember that each body is different — what works quickly for one person won’t necessarily work quickly for another.
Health-Promoting Compounds in Coffee
Coffee is a complex beverage consisting of over 1000 compounds. Caffeine and antioxidants (namely, chlorogenic acid) are the most noteworthy when analyzing the health benefits of coffee drinking.
Caffeine is what coffee is known for. Not only does it increase alertness and suppress fatigue, but caffeine can also combat causes of pain and help rein in cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Is caffeine inflammatory or anti-inflammatory? A 2017 review indicated that coffee seems to be predominantly anti-inflammatory.
The authors noted that caffeine drinking may not be anti-inflammatory on its own, which suggests the other compounds in coffee may have a significant impact on inflammation.
So, move over, caffeine! Antioxidants are quickly taking center stage.
Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol known for helping many health problems. Chlorogenic acid has been linked to staving off free radicals, unstable molecules capable of DNA damage which can lead to a host of chronic illnesses.
In fact, chlorogenic acid gives green coffee supplements the benefits they’re famous for.
Caffeine vs. Decaf Coffee
There seems to be no significant difference between caffeinated and decaf coffee when it comes to inflammation.
The primary difference between caffeinated coffee and decaf coffee is the caffeine level. Decaf coffee still contains some caffeine, but significantly less than regular coffee.
It’s safe to say decaf coffee would retain nearly all of the health benefits of regular coffee.
Constant caffeine consumption not only increases the effects of caffeine but can cause a dependency on caffeinated beverages. Just like dependency on anything, withdrawal symptoms could happen if you drink a ton of coffee and then stop suddenly.
How Coffee Roasting & Additives May Impact Inflammation
Different types of coffee beans don’t seem to affect the anti-inflammatory effects of coffee. However, how your coffee is roasted and coffee additives may increase inflammation if you’re not careful.
Darker coffee roasts may offer less benefit because the longer coffee beans are roasted, the less chlorogenic acid they contain. Of the drinkable coffee roasts, gold coffee theoretically should have the highest levels of this powerful compound.
Some potentially toxic compounds can be found in coffee that’s improperly roasted or stored. Regular coffee consumption, overall, seems to reduce inflammation, but mold or other toxins could potentially offset this.
Finally, it’s important not to load up your coffee with extras that are known to be inflammatory. Added sugar is the most obvious culprit, but other junk in cheap coffee creamers can have the same effect.
Health Benefits of Coffee Drinking
Additional health benefits that coffee offers are wide and varied. Consumption of coffee can:
- Enhance cognitive function
- Improve physical performance
- Fight depression
- Help regularity
- Aid in weight loss
- Protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
In general, these benefits are associated with drinking up to 4 cups of coffee per day.
Can you drink coffee on an anti-inflammatory diet?
Yes, it’s okay to drink coffee while on an anti-inflammatory diet. As with any food or beverage, though, moderation is key. Just be mindful of creamers and added sugar, as those are certainly not anti-inflammatory foods.
Black coffee is best, if you can stomach it.
What are the risks to drinking coffee when on an anti-inflammatory diet? Drinking coffee can have risks, just like anything. Coffee consumption can cause bloating, heartburn, and stomach irritation. It can also have adverse effects if you suffer from IBS.
However, typically these issues arise when you drink more than 4 cups a day.
If you’re unsure, you can always consult your doctor.
Ditch the acid — drink Golden Ratio coffee.
Coffee consumption is associated with many health benefits, most interestingly, those anti-inflammatory properties.
- Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span
- Coffee ... the effects are as good as the aroma.
- A Comprehensive Overview of the Risks and Benefits of Coffee Consumption
- Coffee Drinking and Mortality in 10 European Countries: A Multinational Cohort Study
- Coffee, Caffeine and Health
- Consumption of coffee or caffeine and serum concentration of inflammatory markers: A systematic review