Drinking Coffee May Keep You Younger

Ahhh coffee, what would I do in the morning without my wake up comfort drink?? Coffee is one of the most drunk beverages world wide and is a near stable for many Americans, particularly when getting going in the morning. However, besides the perk up from the caffeine, coffee is loaded with several potent antioxidant compounds that belong to various antioxidant families including the polyphenols, diterpenes, and melanoidins. Some of the many antioxidant compounds in coffee include caffeine, caffeic acid, caffeic acid esters (chlorogenic acids), hydrocinnamic acid, eugenol, gamma-tocopherol, isoeugenol, p-coumaric acid, scopoletin and tannic acid. The consumption of coffee in the American diet is, in fact, the major mechanism by which the vast majority of Americans acquire important health promoting antioxidant compounds.

The polyphenols in coffee include several flavonoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes, and lignans. To learn more about the power of plant-derived polyphenols, such as those in coffee, go to my Supplement Science website. 

The diterpenes in coffee include cafestol and kahweol. Both of these coffee-derived diterpenes have been shown to exhibit anticancer activity. However, in contrast to this benefit of the coffee diterpenes, numerous studies have shown that they (cafestol in particular) cause increased serum total cholesterol and increased LDL cholesterol. These negative effects are likely due to inhibition of LDL receptor activity in the liver resulting in LDL cholesterol remaining in the blood.

Melanoidins are the primary compounds imparting the brown color to coffee. These compounds are complex and are composed polysaccharides (several sugar molecules attached to each other), proteins, and the polyphenol chlorogenic acid. The melanoidins in coffee have been shown to possess antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticariogenic, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, and antiglycative activities. Anticariogenic refers to the prevention of dental cavities. Antiglycative refers to preventing blood glucose from covalently attaching to other substances, primarily hemoglobin forming what is termed hemoglobin A1c.

There is no question regarding the well documented clinical facts that a diet rich in anti-oxidants (think vitamin C and vitamin E for example), especially plant-derived antioxidants, can help stave off diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. New evidence recently published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that drinking coffee results in extension of the life span of white blood cells in humans through maintenance of chromosome telomere length:

Coffee Consumption Is Positively Associated with Longer Leukocyte Telomere Length in the Nurses’ Health Study

As a brief background, with more details being found in the DNA Metabolism page of my website, telomeres are specialized repetitive DNA elements at the ends of all of our individual chromosomes. Every time a cell divides the length of the telomeres shortens until a molecular "time bomb" goes off triggering death of the cell. This is one of the mechanisms of cellular aging and as ones cells age so to does the body.

In this newly published study data from the Nurse's Health Study, a prospective cohort study of female nurses that was begun in 1976, was used to compare rates and amounts of coffee consumption with the length of telomeres in isolated populations of peripheral blood leukocytes (white blood cells). The results of the study found a significant linear relationship between the ingestion of caffeine (from all sources including coffee) and the length of leukocyte telomeres. White blood cells are of numerous types and includes neutrophils and macrophages, which are the cells that are tasked with the phagocytosis ("eating") of invading pathogens, and B and T cells, which are the cells of the humeral (antibodies) and cell-mediated immune systems, respectively. If these cells can survive for a longer period of time, due to maintenance of telomere length, the immune surveillance system of the body should be more robust enhancing resistance to infections as well as potentially enhanced anticancer activity. Both of these processes, when enhanced, can significantly contribute to health and longevity.

So the TAKE HOME from this, and many studies on the benefits of coffee consumption is quite clear, enjoy, drink up, and live a healthier longer LIFE!!!


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