After a comprehensive study spanning 20 years, researchers now have hard evidence supporting the relationship between drinking coffee and the risk of Type 2 diabetes. The result: Increasing your coffee intake reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes. The research team, headed by Dr. Frank Hu and Dr. Shilpa Bhupathiraju of Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, confirmed coffee’s immediate impact on the risk of diabetes and the continued impact four years after changing coffee consumption.
The researchers compiled observational data from three extensive studies. Researchers collected in-depth information on the subjects’ lifestyle, medical state and drinking, eating and smoking habits every two to four years. The studies focused on 123,733 people in the health profession.
- The Nurses’ Health Study took place from 1986 to 2006 and focused on 30- to 50-year-old female nurses.
- The Nurses’ Health Study II took place from 1991 to 2007 and focused on 25- to 42-year old female nurses.
- The Health Professionals Follow-up Study took place from 1986 to 2006 and focused on 40- to 70-year-old male professionals.
During the years of study, some subjects maintained their coffee consumption, some decreased consumption and some increased consumption. The average coffee increase was 1.69 cups per day, and the average coffee decrease was two cups per day. The people who drank more coffee reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 11 percent, but those who drank less coffee increased their risk by 17 percent.
In a drastic comparison, people who drank more than 3 cups per day had a 37 percent lower risk of diabetes than those who drank 1 cup of coffee or less per day.
Furthermore, as reported in Science Daily, the authors found the inverse connection didn’t take place only during a four year period of increased or decreased consumption: It also held for the next four years. Basically, if you increase your coffee consumption, you reduce your current and future risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, the collected data does have two bald spots: tea and decaffeinated coffee. Not many tea drinkers made changes in consumption, so a valid conclusion of tea’s impact couldn’t be reached. While increased consumption of decaffeinated coffee does decrease the risk of diabetes, its association with long-term decreased risk isn’t yet known.
The research team has not yet identified the exact compound in coffee that decreases the risk of diabetes, but it likely isn’t caffeine, which makes controlling blood-sugar levels exceedingly difficult. Coffee does, however, contain magnesium, lignans, bioactive compounds and phenolic compounds, which all have benefits in fighting and preventing Type 2 diabetes.
This doesn’t mean you should indulge in excessive coffee drinking since more than six cups per day leads to other health concerns. As Dr. Bhupathiraju points out, coffee isn’t a miracle cure or absolute preventive against diabetes, but it is an excellent tool you can use with proper nutrition and exercise to lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.