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The Latest in Anti-oxidants
Coffee, A Health Food?
by Paul Kolaski, Clinic Director First Health Associates

Interesting that I am sipping my morning cup of coffee as I am putting this article together. I come from a long line of coffee drinkers. At 65 years young my memories of coffee in the morning are not Kureig Brewers but percolators over gas burners producing perk sounds every few seconds. This sound coupled with the unforgettable aroma that filled the morning air said "its morning time wake up".

Times have changed not only in the way we make our coffee but in its perceived health benefits of the drink itself. In earlier days physicians discouraged coffee drinking as a bad health habit. Today it’s bottoms-up the more-the-healthier.

Studies conducted clearly point to a myriad of health benefits from coffee drinking. While we don’t know exactly how it works we do know that coffee has strong antioxidant properties. So if you are one of the fortunate ones who can drink a few cups a day without the jitters, sleepless nights or upset stomachs, read on. Speaking of sleepless nights decaffeinated coffee seems to impart most of the same benefits.

Type 2 Diabetes
Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels. Coffee appears to help insulin do its job. Coffee contains the minerals magnesium and chromium which are frequently used as a supplemental aid in Type 2 Diabetes.

Heart Arrhythmia
Coffee has often been accused of causing your heart rate to speed up or irregular heart beats, so it’s ironic that science is actually showing that coffee has linked to lower risks of rhythm disturbances often associated with strokes and heart attacks.  

A large study by Kaiser Permanente (west coast insurance carrier) found clients who drank 1-3 cups of coffee daily were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for heart arrhythmias than nondrinkers.  Where’s the closest Starbucks?

Cancer
We are beginning to associate the benefit of antioxidant intake with a decrease in health issues. Cancer is no exception. Cancer is quickly moving ahead of heart disease as the number one killer of Americans, mostly because we have a better understanding of the prevention and treatment of heart disease and know way too little about cancer prevention and care.

Let me divert for a quick second, this is really an important concept for extending life and improving health. Your body wears out over time. This wearing out is due to oxidation of tissue.

Think about this: When a hand grenade explodes it sends out metal fragments (shrapnel) in all directions. The fragments can do as much damage as the actual explosion. When human tissue oxidizes it explodes and sends out free radicals (shrapnel) in all directions damaging the lining of cells. This process is called oxidation. Antioxidants are substances that defuse the explosive thus limiting tissue damage.

That being said coffee is a powerful antioxidant that has been strongly associated with the reduced risk of liver cancer and liver cirrhosis. Both conditions have been linked to the oxidation of liver cells. But here’s an interesting thought how many other cancers are linked to oxidation?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Both dementia and Alzheimer's Disease are associated with the death of brain cells. Again going back to our theory on oxidation of cells coffee drinkers who consumed 3-5 cups per day were reported to have a 65% less chance of dementia and Alzheimer’s in a study from Sweden.

Ironically I'm done prepping this article while taking my last sip of coffee. Maybe today I'll treat myself to a double latte mocha cappucinno vente?