You already know that a great cup of coffee can turn your day around. There's nothing like wrapping your hands around your favorite mug and letting it ignite all of your senses.
However, did you also know that coffee is one of the healthiest and most nutritious beverages you can consume? Your regular cup of joe could be doing more for you than you know!
Today, we're specifically taking a look at the anti-inflammatory properties of coffee. When inflammation levels are too high in your body, it can increase your risk of many different health conditions, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.
What helps coffee tackle inflammation and why is this element so important to your overall health? Today, we're taking a closer look and sharing all of the answers you need to know.
What Is Inflammation?
Before we dive into how coffee works against inflammation, let's take a step back. What is inflammation, anyway?
When you think of this word, you might envision your body swelling up. In some cases, this is true. For instance, your ankle will get bigger if you sprain it.
Yet, while this is an example of inflammation, the signs are usually much less noticeable on a regular basis. When scientists discuss inflammation, they're simply talking about your body's way of naturally defending itself against all types of issues, including:
- Tissue damage
Your immune system is primarily responsible for regulating your defensive, inflammatory response. When it senses any type of threat, it dispatches white blood cells to the affected areas. As a result, you can experience a range of internal and external symptoms.
Externally, you might notice pain, redness, or irritation at the area (such as when you cut your thumb). You may also feel heat near the region. Internally, you may develop a fever as your immune system kicks into overdrive.
Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation
Most of the time, an inflammatory response is acute, or short-lived. Once your body attacks the invaders and heals itself, the signs and symptoms will diminish. A sprained ankle doesn't stay swollen forever, and new skin eventually covers a cut on your skin.
However, there are times when your immediate or acute immune response isn't enough to clear away the invader for good. When this happens, the inflammation shifts from acute to chronic. This is when it can pose a real threat to your body and impact your quality of life.
A few of the most noticeable signs of chronic inflammation include:
- General body aches
- Chest pain
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Chronic fatigue or insomnia
- Depression or anxiety
- Mood disorders
- Frequent, recurring infections
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Skin rashes
- Gastrointestinal problems (constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux)
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
If you suffer from chronic inflammation, you might be able to trace the issue back to a specific point in time. However, this isn't always the case. Some people simply notice that their body doesn't feel as good as it once does, and it's more difficult to perform everyday tasks.
This is one of the first signs that inflammation has taken hold. Yet, what causes it in the first place?
Some of the most common factors behind this condition include:
- Autoimmune disorders that attack healthy body tissue
- Untreated acute inflammation
- Exposure to certain toxins (e.g. industrial chemicals)
In addition, there are also several different lifestyle factors that can trigger chronic inflammation within your body. Your likelihood of developing this condition increases if these factors apply to you:
- You drink alcohol in excess
- You don't get enough exercise
- You exercise at your maximum intensity too frequently
- You have a high body mass index (BMI)
- You suffer from chronic stress
- You smoke
Foods and Beverages That Fight Inflammation
If you're experiencing the effects of acute or chronic inflammation, the good news is that there are solutions and treatments to help you live a more comfortable life. For instance, there are certain supplements, medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can help. Some people also receive steroid injections to help decrease inflammation in certain regions, such as their back.
In addition to medication, you can also try diet and lifestyle changes to help you minimize your inflammation levels. Exercising more frequently can help, as can cutting back on unhealthy habits, like smoking and excessive drinking.
Did you know there are also foods and beverages that are naturally anti-inflammatory in nature? By incorporating more of those into your diet, you can help your body naturally fight inflammation and improve your overall comfort levels.
Food-wise, some physicians recommend sticking to a Mediterranean diet as closely as possible. This includes eating plenty of food, such as:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale)
- Whole fruits and vegetables
- Oily fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon)
- Olive oil
At the same time, it's also important to avoid certain foods that you know can contribute to inflammation. Some of these include:
- Cured meats that contain nitrates (such as hot dogs)
- Fried foods
- Trans fats and highly refined oils
- Refined carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, pastries)
For beverages, it's best to stick to drinks that can reduce markers of inflammation. These include:
- Green tea
- Fruit or vegetable concentrates (100% orange juice, beet juice, tomato juice, cranberry juice)
Understanding the Anti-inflammatory Properties of Coffee
Wait a minute! Did we just say that coffee can be an important part of your anti-inflammatory diet? Did you realize that your favorite morning pick-me-up could do your body so much good?
Here's how it works.
While early research suggested that caffeine could actually increase inflammation, scientists now know this isn't the case. Rather, caffeine has a relatively neutral effect on your body. It isn't specifically anti-inflammatory in nature, but it can decrease inflammation when consumed in the form of coffee.
In fact, they've discovered that sustained, moderate coffee intake can actually decrease the inflammatory markers in your body. As a result, it can lower your risk of developing a chronic health condition down the road.
So, if caffeine itself isn't anti-inflammatory, what makes coffee such a powerful inflammation blaster? The secret is found in the other organic compounds found in coffee, including polyphenols like chlorogenic acid. It's these ingredients that deliver those much-needed anti-inflammatory benefits your body craves.
In all, coffee contains more than 1,000 bioactive compounds. In addition to chlorogenic acid, it also contains other polyphenols including diterpenes and trigonelline. Combined, these compounds can help stop free radicals from moving within your body, where they can cause damage that generates inflammation.
In addition, some components in coffee also block your body's natural production of certain inflammatory compounds. They do so by inhibiting certain factors, including gene expression and enzyme development, which are required for those compounds to form.
As a result of these findings, scientists have discovered that regular coffee drinkers experience less low-grade inflammation than people who sustain from drinking coffee altogether. They also have a fewer number of inflammatory markers, as well as a lower occurrence of certain health conditions, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Other chronic conditions
Coffee and Your Gut
While you'll feel the benefits all over, your gut will especially thank you for pouring a cup of coffee each morning. Inflammation along the lining of your gastrointestinal tract can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent diarrhea
- Weight loss
Coffee can help lower inflammation in your stomach. It also helps deliver anti-cancer and antioxidant properties to your gastrointestinal lining.
Measuring Inflammation in Your Body: How Does Coffee Affect It?
Wondering if you suffer from chronic inflammation? There isn't one distinct test that physicians use to measure your levels. Instead, there are a few different approaches they can take, such as:
- Monitoring your inflammatory markers
- Studying your hormone levels
- Measuring your blood sugar levels
All of these tests can inform physicians if your body's chronic immune response has been activated. If you consume coffee, you can help improve the outcome of each one. Let's take a closer look to learn how each one works.
In short, inflammatory markers (or biomarkers) are blood tests that doctors use to detect inflammation in your body. If your markers are raised, it could indicate that you are suffering from a specific type of disease.
Generally speaking, the term "biomarker" can be used to describe a range of health tests. For instance, your blood pressure is a type of biomarker. Imaging tests (like X-rays) are another type of biomarker.
When it comes to inflammation, they're trying to see if the levels of certain components are elevated within your body. To measure this, they'll look at a few different elements, including:
- Your blood count (w.g. red blood cell count, white blood cell count, hemoglobin count)
- Your level of C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Your level of Tumor-necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha, a type of inflammatory cytokine)
- Your level of procalcitonin (biomarker released in response to bacterial infections)
- Your level of calprotectin (protein biomarker present in feces when intestinal inflammation occurs)
Coffee can help lower the levels of certain biomarkers linked to inflammation. Let's take a look at which ones it can affect.
Researchers believe that by consuming coffee, you may be able to decrease your levels of C-reactive protein, or CRP. This is an inflammatory biomarker that's often included in standard, screening lab work.
When your CRP levels are high, it could indicate that there's an inflammatory response occurring in your body. Yet, it does not specify where this elevation is concentrated. High levels of CRP are often linked to health conditions, such as:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic infections
In one study, they found that people who drink coffee on a regular basis show a CRP decrease of 16%.
In another, researchers found that the quantity of the coffee matters. Even if you can't commit to one full cup each day, you can still see the health benefits. They found that for every half-cup of coffee someone drinks, their CRP levels lower by up to 5.5%.
Further research is necessary to understand the direct link between coffee and CRP levels, though the early findings are promising. Researchers are also seeking to discover if these results are the same across the board, or if they affect certain races or genders differently.
TNF-alpha is a protein in your body that can cause inflammation. When it gets too high, it can lead to health conditions such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns, ulcerative colitis)
In addition, excess TNF-alpha can also raise the levels of oxidative stress in your body. This can cause neurological disease, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions.
In one study, researchers found that coffee green bean extract, which comes from unroasted coffee beans, can act as a powerful antioxidant. They held an eight-week study, designed specifically for individuals suffering from fatty liver disease. For the duration of the study, participants consumed the extract on a consistent basis.
At the end of the study, their inflammation and TNF-alpha levels were lower than they were at the onset.
Next, let's talk about how your hormones can affect inflammation within your body. Hormones, which comprise your endocrine system, work closely with your immune system, and when they are imbalanced, it can lead to a host of health problems, such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
There are certain hormones that can cause inflammation when they're elevated, including estrogen and cortisol. Researchers believe that coffee can help decrease excess estrogen in both men and women while simultaneously increasing healthy testosterone levels, both of which can help reduce inflammatory responses.
Another hormone that can be dangerous in excess is leptin. This is a hormone that helps regulate your appetite and affects the way your body stores fat. If its levels get too high, it could trigger extra inflammation in your body.
The good news is that consuming coffee can lower your level of leptin. This reduces inflammation and can help you prevent conditions such as obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Meanwhile, there are other hormones that trigger inflammation when their levels are too low.
This includes adiponectin, which is a valuable hormone secreted by your body's fat cells. Adiponectin contains anti-inflammatory features and helps protect your body against insulin resistance. When your body doesn't make enough of it, you can be at a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In one study, researchers found that moderate coffee drinkers (people who consume at least four cups of coffee each day) can increase their adiponectin levels by around 17%. Not only can this help lower inflammation, but it could also protect you from developing other conditions by protecting and preserving your insulin sensitivity.
Blood Sugar Levels
Also known as glucose, blood sugar is the main sugar found throughout your body. Derived from the food you eat, it's your body's primary source of energy.
We've already talked about how sugar can lead to chronic inflammation. When your blood sugar levels are too high, it can trigger an inflammatory immune response. Proper glucose control is key to maintaining a healthy blood sugar balance and ensuring your levels stay in a good middle range.
When you drink coffee, you're already taking a proactive approach to maintaining your blood glucose levels. As we mentioned, coffee helps regulate your body's production of adiponectin and leptin, two hormones present in your blood. By keeping these hormonal levels in check, you can also help ensure your glucose levels remain steady.
Coffee's Effects on C-Peptide
Another way that coffee can help regulate your glucose levels is by lowering your C-peptide levels. When your body produces insulin and releases it into your body, it also creates C-peptide. Your C-peptide level is based on your blood sugar level.
If it's present in your body, then it's a sign that your pancreas is producing insulin. If levels are low (or non-existent), then it indicates that your pancreas isn't producing enough insulin or none at all. Sometimes, this simply happens because you haven't eaten recently.
However, if you have eaten and your blood sugar is high but your C-peptide levels are low, this could be abnormal. It's also abnormal to have elevated levels of C-peptide, which indicates that your body has to produce a lot of insulin to regulate your blood sugar. High C-peptide levels are common in people with:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Insulin resistance
One study found that drinking coffee can lower your C-peptide levels by nearly 9% compared to non-coffee drinkers. In addition, it can also lower your levels of IGFBP-3, which is a special type of growth hormone that increases alongside your glucose levels. When it gets too high, IGFBP-3 can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health issues.
How Much Coffee Should I Drink?
Now that you know a little more about how coffee can lower inflammation in your body, you might wonder how much you need to drink to enjoy those health benefits.
Will one cup of coffee a day be enough? Or, should you increase your intake?
There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While most researchers agree that the sweet spot is around two to three cups of coffee each day, this standard will not apply to everyone. Certain physical factors, such as your height and weight, will influence how much coffee you can safely and comfortably consume.
What Type of Coffee Should I Drink?
Should you spice up your cup of coffee to lower your inflammation risk? Instead of experimenting with a ton of different coffee flavors, the key here is to look for roasts that are naturally delicious on their own, without the addition of cream or sugar.
Both cream and sugar are inflammation triggers, so minimizing your use can help you reap as many health benefits as possible. It's also important to realize that the studies described above were usually performed using black coffee only. Adding too many ingredients to your cup could alter or diminish the effects.
Not sure you can go without a few spoonfuls of sugar or a heavy pour of cream? We encourage you to give our Antioxidant Coffee a try! Naturally anti-inflammatory and bursting with antioxidants, it stands on its own.
Still want to stir a little something into it? Instead of reaching for the pitcher of cream, pick up The Good Stuff™ instead. This is our premium performance coffee supplement designed to supercharge the natural benefits of our Antioxidant Coffee. Not only will it improve your energy and focus, but it can also help you optimize your skin health, reduce caffeine jitters, and more. What's more? It tastes absolutely delicious!
Never Look at a Cup of Coffee the Same Way Again
You're always looking forward to your next coffee moment. Whether you're a morning person, welcoming the sunrise with your favorite brew, or a night owl sipping as you unwind, there's never a bad time to indulge.
When you shop from a trusted, quality brand like For Wellness, you know you're getting premium coffee designed to boost your health, maximize your mental clarity, and improve your overall wellness.
The anti-inflammatory properties of coffee are just one reason to love it. Taste our Antioxidant Coffee for yourself to discover why it's so special.