Joy for Java Drinkers: Coffee May Keep Diabetes at Bay
People who drank three to four cups of coffee per day had an approximate 25% lower risk of diabetes than people who drank no coffee
Nearly two decades into the coffee renaissance in North America, it is reassuring to find that this popular beverage might protect us against an alarmingly common contemporary malady--type 2 diabetes, a disease affecting at least 171 million people worldwide and causing enormous economic, health, and social costs. A new analysis of previous research concluded that drinking coffee, as well as decaffeinated coffee and black tea, was associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A cup of protection
The report on coffee, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, was based on the results from 18 studies, which included a total of nearly 458,000 people. A combined analysis of the findings identified a significant relationship between coffee-drinking and reduced risk of diabetes:
Caffeine: virtue or vice?
Health concerns about coffee drinking are most often related to its caffeine content. Caffeine can temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure, cause irritability and insomnia, and trigger irregular heart rhythms in some people. There is also evidence that women who drink caffeinated beverages might have a harder time achieving and maintaining pregnancy. On the other hand, research suggests that coffee drinkers might be at lower risk of developing gallstones, colon cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. It may also prevent liver damage in people at high risk of liver disease.
"Our findings suggest that any protective effects of coffee and tea [against diabetes] are unlikely to be solely effects of caffeine but rather, as has been speculated previously, they likely involve a broader range of chemical constituents present in these beverages, such as magnesium, lignans, and chlorogenic acids," the authors of the current report noted in their conclusion.
Healthy habits are the best prevention
While drinking coffee, decaf, and tea might help prevent diabetes, the best ways to avoid this increasingly common disease are eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise:
Limit intake of simple sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup. Overconsumption of sugar and refined grains, like white flour products, raise blood glucose levels and over time contribute to reduced insulin sensitivity and poor blood glucose control.
(Arch Intern Med 2009;169:2053-63)
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.