Coffee contains an antioxidant chemical that can “protect” the body from a range of cancers and diabetes, a leading health researcher told Express.co.uk. Doctor Astrid Nehlig, Director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, said polyphenol in coffee “decreases the risk” of liver, colon, and stomach cancer.
She explained: “[The] strongest protection is found in the liver. There is also protection against colon cancer and the stomach. In most of the other parts of the digestive tract, coffee is neutral.”
The specific mechanism that gives polyphenol in coffee its anti-cancerous properties aren’t fully understood, but Nehlig speculates it’s to do with the anti-oxidative nature of coffee that helps.
Antioxidants “protect our DNA and protect our cells from the attack by oxidative stress,” she adds. “[The] concentration of polyphenol [in coffee] is very high,” Nehlig said.
One recent study also recognised its anti-germ properties might also be responsible for the link between polyphenol and lower gastric-cancer risk.
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Nehlig, who is also an expert at the Institute of Scientific Information on Coffee, explains that coffee has the potential to cause “improvements” in people with type 2 diabetes.
Coffee, she explained, is all-around beneficial for the digestive system. It boosts the production of saliva enzymes, increases the release of hydrochloric acid, and stimulates the pancreas to create digestive enzymes.
Scientists think that coffee may also help to produce insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
“You have a more efficient digestion system and a more efficient organisation of carbohydrates,” she said.
But coffee research isn’t all positive. High levels of coffee consumption have been associated with higher levels of cholesterol – which increases the risk of heart disease.
One recently published study by the Arctic University of Norway found the connection after it looked at over 21,000 residents from the city Tromso who provided health information between 2015-2016.
“Increased knowledge on espresso coffee’s association with serum cholesterol will improve the recommendations regarding coffee consumption,” concluded researchers involved in the study, which can be found in the journal Open Heart.
Aside from supporting digestive health, coffee might also help protect against conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
One review of 13 studies found people who consumed caffeine were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
It has also been shown to slow the progress of the condition.