Your liver performs many essential functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity, and the storage of nutrients within the body. It is also crucial to the filtration and detoxification of your blood. Good liver function is an essential component of your overall health, and now, for coffee and tea drinkers, a recently released study just shed light on how these beverages can play a role in protecting the health of your liver.
Good News for Caffeine Consumers
An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and the Duke University School of Medicine released a study that suggests caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in humans. Led by Dr. Paul Yen and Dr. Rohit Sinha, the study observed that caffeine stimulates the metabolization of lipids (fat molecules that include cholesterol and triglycerides) stored in liver cells and decreased the fatty liver content of subjects that were fed a high-fat diet. These findings suggest that consuming the equivalent caffeine intake of four cups of coffee or tea a day may be beneficial in protecting the liver from fatty tissue accumulation.
"This is the first detailed study of the mechanism for caffeine action on lipids in liver and the results are very interesting," Yen said. "Coffee and tea are so commonly consumed and the notion that they may be therapeutic, especially since they have a reputation for being ‘bad’ for health, is especially enlightening." This research could lead to the development of caffeine-like drugs that do not have the usual side effects related to caffeine, yet retain the therapeutic effects on the liver.
There’s a Few Coffee and Tea Drinkers Out There
So coffee and tea drinkers can celebrate. According to the International Tea Committee (ITC) and the International Coffee Organization (ICO), global tea production reached 4.3 million tons annually as of 2012 while coffee reached 7.88 million tons. With 2 grams of tea and 10 grams of coffee needed to brew a cup, this is enough to produce 5.9 billion cups of tea and 2.2 billion cups of coffee a day. That is a lot of coffee and tea, but it’s also important to remember caffeine consumption should be done in moderation. It is estimated for most healthy adults that 200 to 300 milligrams, or about two-to-four cups, of brewed coffee a day is an accepted range of consumption.
Go Easy on the Additives
There are, however, ways to turn your reportedly healthy dose of caffeine into an unhealthy start to your day. An abundance of cream and sugar can turn any cup of coffee or tea into a sugary and fattening nightmare, especially refined and artificial sugars with high fructose corn syrup. These sweeteners are associated with metabolic disturbances that can affect appetite, weight management, blood sugar levels, and heart health. Flavored creamers can also add sugar to your cup of coffee or tea, along with tripling the amount of calories and adding unhealthy trans fats. So when you can, go light on the additives and enjoy the natural flavors. When it comes to protecting your liver, you can now enjoy your daily cup of coffee or tea with a more satisfying, healthy feeling. But remember, moderation and a healthy diet are two of the best ways to keep your liver healthy and performing all its necessary functions.