There seems to never be a definitive conclusion when it comes to coffee, America’s favorite caffeinated beverage, and our health. Pop science articles are always wavering on this matter and yet consumers continue to consume each and every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Why? Coffee provides mental and physical stimulation through caffeine and other constituents such as mao-b inhibitors, dependence and tolerance set in rather quickly as caffeine is a drug just like any other, it is ritualistic and provides a common ground for social interaction, and it simply tastes great to many. We will continue the wavering debate in this article with the discussion of a very recent study, a study which has evaluated possible health benefits of coffee in relation to the liver.
Coffee and the Liver – The Facts
This isn’t the first time the relationship between coffee and the liver have been put under a microscope and it most likely won’t be the last. A visit to PubMed.gov, a database of scientific studies, would yield exactly 482 entries that are either direct analyses of coffee’s effect on the liver or entries which at the very least acknowledge the relationship. In short, the potential health benefits of coffee and its positive effects on the liver is no stranger to science.
A look at the most recent study tells us that coffee, whether it is a caffeinated cup of Folgers or a decaffeinated cup of Maxwell House, lowers levels of liver enzymes. Researchers found that there was an inverse relationship between enzyme levels and coffee intake. In other words, the more coffee that participants drank the lower the level of enzymes. Again, there was no discrepancy between users of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee as both had a positive effect on liver health.
The findings of this study hold their weight in that there was a total of 27, 793 participants. All participants were 20 years or older and the study took place over the course of 11 years (1999-2010).
High Levels of Liver Enzymes – What Does it Mean?
The study suggests that coffee is good for our livers because it lowers the levels of enzymes in the liver. Enzymes tested in the study include aminotransferase (ALT), aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and gamma glutamyl transaminase (GGT). The question is, why are higher levels of liver enzymes bad? High levels of liver enzymes or elevated liver enzymes are associated with inflammation and damage to liver cells.
You can find out if your levels are elevated by undergoing a simple blood test at the doctor’s office. Whether or not actions need to be taken is matter between you and your doctor but it’s important to note that most of us have had elevated enzymes at one point or another in our lives. Drinking alcohol can elevate enzymes temporarily as can medication which is metabolized by the liver. It is when your levels are constantly elevated that you have a problem.
Common Causes of Elevated Liver Enzymes
There are many causes of high levels of enzymes of which you can see here. Some well known causes include alcohol addiction, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and certain prescription medications.
Coffee is Healthy Today
With this recent study coffee is on the healthy side for now. Liver health benefits isn’t the only punch coffee packs as other studies suggest that it helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among other benefits. It’s also an excellent source of antioxidants. But while coffee can keep your liver healthy it’s important to note that you shouldn’t use the beverage as a primary weapon for preventing liver issues. Drink it as the tasty pick me up that it is with the nice bonus of liver health benefits.
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