2023 off to a healthy start? Don’t forget your coffee…..

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January is my least favourite month of the year. Not because it’s cold, damp and dark, but because the world around me seems to erupt into a fervent attempt to get fit, lose weight and act all smug about it.

Ditching or cutting back on caffeine usually seems to be high on their agenda. But that’s where their smugness should end.

Thanks to my latte-swigging, laid back lifestyle I managed to catch Professor Tim Spector (of the Covid Zoe app fame) on ITV’s Lorraine last week, talking about healthy eating. According to the Professor, coffee is healthier for you than fruit juice. He had my attention.

Evidence, Tim explained to Lorraine, is now “incontrovertible” that coffee drinkers have less heart disease than non-coffee drinkers. Studies have shown that the micronutrients naturally occurring in coffee, called polyphenols, have a protective effect on the heart, with Tim likening them to “rocket fuel for your gut microbes.” Great!

In fact, Spector believes that improving your gut health (microbiome) and metabolism can lead to weight loss without counting the calories. That was music to my ears (and waistline) and, since everyone else I know was out exercising, I had time to do some proper research (for your benefit, of course) to check out if what he was saying was really true.

After scanning a range of different publications, including the British Medical Journal, for scientific studies on the effects of coffee I’ve since discovered that: 2 cups of black coffee provide more fibre than a banana; you can ‘healthily’ drink up to 5 cups of coffee a day; most cups of coffee contain more fibre than a glass of orange juice; and habitual coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This is all good news.

Apparently, and here’s the science bit, the fibre from the coffee ferments in our guts to produce “short-chain fatty acids” that help both our metabolism and our immune systems perform better. Lovely.

Either way, all the scientists are unified on their conclusions that the long term health impacts of coffee are positive. It’s good for your heart, your liver, your gut and your health. 

So, if you’re checking off New Year’s Resolutions but struggling with the reduction in caffeine intake, for the sake of your gut microbiome (and your own sanity), pop the kettle on and have a brew. It’ll be worth it in the long term.

Article First Published in The Menu Magazine in The Courier and Press & Journal