Coffee is no longer a social beverage used to provide a mental boost especially if you consume it first thing in the morning. Over the years, there have been many reports indicating that in general, people who drink coffee tend to have a longer life-span as compared to those who do not. Several recent studies also confirm that people who drink coffee regularly may live longer. Scientists may also have finally figured out the mechanism of this association between coffee and longevity.
In this new study, scientists observed that in most people there is an ongoing inflammatory process that may be responsible for the development of heart and blood vessel disease later in life. They observed that in people who drank coffee, the caffeine suppressed this inflammatory reaction and thus lowered the risk of heart disease and stroke. David Furman Ph.D., the lead investigator of the study, from the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection at Stanford University in California, has recently reported these finding in the journal Nature Medicine.
Furman and his colleagues believe that this positive impact on survival rate and longevity is not attributed not to coffee per se, but to the caffeine. For many years it has been known that caffeine has moderate anti-inflammatory activities.
Besides coffee, there are many beverages that contain caffeine including tea, soda, energy drinks, some foods and even chocolate- and they all have the same ability to inhibit the inflammatory process.
In their study, the researchers first identified the inflammatory processes that were contributing to heart disease with advancing age. They drew blood from the study participants to assess gene clusters that were strongly linked to generation of inflammation. They then also identified a group of participants with low activity of these gene clusters. What they observed was that older individuals with high clusters of these inflammatory genes were more likely to develop blood vessel stiffness – which is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. They later reproduced these findings in animals.
In humans they observed that older individuals with low inflammatory gene clusters were more likely to have caffeine metabolites that could prevent anti-inflammatory reactions.
However, it is important to remember that the process of inflammation is much more complex. There are many other factors that play a role in heart disease. If caffeine alone were responsible for longevity than nations, which drink gallons of coffee, would be having the longest survival. And this is clearly not so. While coffee does have its benefits, it is not smart to simply rely on it alone for prevention of heart disease.