Coffee, More Than Just a Mood-Enhancing Beverage
Coffee, uttering the word alone may give you an energy boost, but most would rather drink it for its mood-enhancing effects. Although coffee is much more than just a mood enhancer, mainly due to its caffeine content, for coffee has also been shown that it could help prevent or combat development several chronic diseases. One particular study concluded that long-term coffee consumption with a dose-dependent relationship, a higher dose equated to increased benefits (to a point), reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.1 In another study, it was concluded that coffee intake reduces the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease.2 Furthermore, coffee has many performance benefits as well that range from improving endurance performance2 to increasing muscle glycogen resynthesize,3 a fancy way of saying you’re muscles ability to refill their glycogen (carbohydrate) stores.
What Produces Coffees Incredible Health Benefits?
What is it about coffee, specifically what are the compounds that are found in coffee, that produce this broad spectrum of health benefits? Well let’s take a deeper look.
Decreasing Inflammation & Risk of Developing Chronic Disease
Pertaining to coffee being able to fight against chronic disease, antioxidants are the main compounds that have been shown to decrease excessive inflammation levels in the body, a hallmark of all chronic disease.
Antioxidants, Especially Cholorgenic Acid
Coffee contains incredibly high levels of antioxidants and is the number one dietary source of antioxidants for Americans.4 Coffee beans specifically contain phenolic antioxidant compounds or polyphenols, the major polyphenol found in coffee is chlorogenic acid.5 Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) have been shown to reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases, this is mainly due to CGAs ability to mitigate oxidative stress.6 Antioxidant activity, thus CGAs activity, of coffee depends on the chemical composition. I’m not going to bore you with the actual chemical composition. All that is important here is that it has been observed that the antioxidant activity of coffee varies according to the degree of roasting. Maximum antioxidant activity was found in medium-roasted coffee.7
When we talk about coffees performance enhancing effects they are most often attributed to coffees caffeine content and this is rightfully so. Caffeine has been consistently researched since the 1970s and the majority of this research has looked at the effects of caffeine on exercise and/or sport. Research done in the 1970s, from David Costill’s laboratory, shown that trained cyclist improved their ride times from 75 mins when consuming a placebo to 96 mins with the consumption of 330 mg of caffeine (from coffee), that’s roughly a 28% increase!8 Another study gave only 250 mg of caffeine and reported a 20% increase in work completed in 2 hours of cycling.9 This hints at there being a dose-dependent relationship between caffeine and it performance-enhancing effects, which is supported by other research.10
Cafestol & Kahweol (No those aren’t made up words)
Caffeine is not the only component of coffee that relate to it performance enhancing abilities. Although these effects are not seen in the exercise itself, but rather they aid in the bodies ability to recover. These components are chlorogenic acids, Cafestol, and kahweol. You have already learned that CGAs are the primary antioxidants found in coffee and their ability to fight disease. CGA can also benefit muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and promoting further healing in damaged muscle tissues.11 Cafestol is known as a diterpene, a bioactive substance in coffee, that has been shown to increase glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in vitro (outside the human body) and increases glucose uptake in human skeletal muscle cells.12 Increasing the uptake of glucose into muscle will allow for faster recovery of depleted or damaged muscle fibers. Kahweol, another diterpene found in coffee, has also been shown to increase glucose uptake into muscles and the added benefit of inhibiting lipid accumulation in adipocyte cells, or simply fat accumulation in fat cells.13