Living in a first world country like America has gotten us used to the many luxuries not available elsewhere. One of these luxuries is the availability of food in huge quantities. While there are many healthy food sources, the abundance of “fast food” establishments have made it quite easy to eat on a budget. Unfortunately, this has led to the obesity epidemic America now faces.
However, new research suggests that perhaps your daily cup of coffee is helping do more than awaken you from your sleepy state. It’s also helping you fight off the complications that obesity brings.
Effects of obesity
Medically speaking, obesity is more complex than simply having more body fat. It also increases your risk of many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, just to name a few. Much of the reason why people become obese is their lack of a balanced diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle.
“Over the past few decades, we gradually deviated towards more unhealthy habits, including a sedentary lifestyle, decreased physical activity, and consumption of a ‘happy diet,'” said study lead author Dr. Louise Alferink.
This “happy diet” is in reference to the commonly described western diet that many Americans consume. Often times, a western diet is characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meats, butter, high-fat dairy, high-sugar drinks, and refined grains. Much of these foods are unhealthy and lack nutrients.
“This unhealthy way of eating has contributed to the obesity epidemic and a surge in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which occurs when excessive amounts of fat accumulate in the liver,” said Alferink.
Frequent coffee and tea drinking helps
This has led the research team to look for a solution to this rising obesity trend, with regular drinking of coffee and herbal tea being the subject of an investigation.
The study in question examined data from more than 2,400 Dutch individuals age 45 or older who did not have liver disease. Medical records and liver scans, along with questionnaires detailing the participant’s tea and coffee consumption, were looked at.
Amazingly, the researchers found that overall frequent herbal tea and coffee drinking had a protective effect on the liver. Specifically, frequent coffee drinking was seen to have a significantly lower risk of liver stiffness and less scarring regardless of the participant’s lifestyle and environment.
“The exact mechanism is unknown but it is thought that coffee exerts antioxidant effects. We were curious to find out whether coffee consumption would have a similar effect on liver stiffness measurements in individuals without chronic liver disease,” said Murad, a hepatologist at the medical center.
The researchers stress that the study can’t prove that coffee and teas actually improve liver health, and feel that more research would be needed to uncover how these beverages interact with our liver.