(By Yusuff Moshood)
Ignite, a Pan-African educational programme coordinated by medical consultants and researchers with interests in the nutritional and health benefits of coffee, recently held a stakeholders’ parley on the latest clinical findings of the health benefits of coffee.
The event, themed: “Coffee and Health: Current Scientific Findings” and held at De Renaissance Hotel, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, was attended by Ignite Scientific Committee members and other top health practitioners.
A member of the Ignite scientific committee, Dr. Bartholomew I. C. Brai, a research fellow from the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), while speaking on the topic, “Coffee: A Beverage Full of Goodness”, said coffee is the most pleasurable hot beverage in the world and the second most drunk beverage, after water.
He noted that coffee is naturally rich in antioxidants, mainly polyphenols from the chlorogenic acid family, adding that the antioxidants represent about 25 per cent coffee solids in instant coffee.
Dr. Brai stated that research has shown that coffee enhances mental and physical performance, while also helping to lower the risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, hepatic diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, inflammation and cavities.
In his presentation, another member of the Ignite Scientific Committee, Dr. Akinsanya Olusegun-Joseph, a consultant cardiologist from Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said while coffee is the most pleasurable hot beverage in the world, it is also the most controversial beverage globally.
Dr. Akinsanya, who spoke on the topic, “Coffee and Health: Current Scientific Findings,”observed that earlier studies on coffee did not always take into account that known high-risk behaviours, such as smoking and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among heavy drinkers of coffee at that time, adding that recent articles, however, point to coffee as being cardioprotective.
The cardiologist noted that coffee has natural bioactive compounds with beneficial properties. These include: caffeine, fibre, antioxidants, micronutrients and polyphenols.
He stated further that a 2008 study of 459 Japanese women revealed a significant, independent, inverse correlation between coffee consumption and serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, adding that the antioxidant effect of coffee is becoming increasingly known.
Coffee compounds, he said also raise the levels of detoxifying enzymes that protect against DNA damage, which partly explains how coffee further helps lowers the incidence of related disease such as cancer.
He also disclosed that a 2009 prospective study in Japan, following nearly 77,000 individuals aged 40 to 79, found that coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
He noted that, while drinking coffee has been found to actually raise blood pressure briefly, right after consumption, due to the effect of caffeine, scientific studies, however show that coffee’s compounds lower blood pressure over the long term, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This, he said, is believed to be a result of the beneficial action of chlorogenic acids on the arteries.
He however warned that excessive coffee intake, like any other substance, can be harmful, saying that there have been complaints of restlessness, agitation, awareness of heartbeat in some very high coffee consumers (those who drank more than five cups of coffee per day).
He equally added that some people are sensitive to caffeine’s stimulating effects, counselling such to take coffee with caution or discontinue further intake. Coffee, he said, is also not intended to replace other healthy lifestyle behaviours like exercise, smoking cessation, as well as reduction in salt and fatty meals intake.
In her own presentation, Dr. Kemi Odukoya, a public health physician and lecturer at the Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said that more recent research is showing evidence that coffee has many benefits to human health. Dr. Odukayo, also a member of the Ignite Scientific Committee, who spoke on the topic, “Coffee and Health: An Update on Research Findings” said that while coffee was initially thought to cause arrhythmias and raised blood pressure, recent evidence suggests that coffee, whether caffeinated or not, does not appear to cause arrhythmias in normal subjects.
She disclosed that extensive epidemiological studies have confirmed that there is no link between coffee consumption and hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and coronary artery disease (CAD), adding that moderate amounts of coffee consumption may play an important role in maintaining good health.