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Coffee vs. Diabetes

Sometimes the latest health news talks about some obscure supplement you've never heard of. Or a health food that has all the appeal of freshly-cut grass.
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Sometimes the latest health news talks about some obscure supplement you've never heard of.

Or a health food that has all the appeal of freshly-cut grass.

But not this time. Because today, I am talking about a deep, dark elixir that delights people around the world. A potion that provides many Americans with their dose of antioxidants. And caffeine.

I'm talking about coffee, of course, the magic bean that wakes you up in the morning and sometimes keeps you up at night.

And judging from the impressive amount of research coming out about coffee from around the world, thoughts of this brew are keeping researchers plenty stimulated. From Brazil to Japan and many points in between, coffee is generating excitement for benefits for a wide range of conditions.

Here is some freshly ground research on coffee that hit me like a doppio espresso. Coffee can help fight diabetes.

The Harvard School of Public Health has been grinding out a series of studies that perked up my attention.

Coffee Improves Insulin Sensitivity

At Harvard and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, researchers looked at the Nurses' Health Study of 982 diabetic and 1,058 nondiabetic women without cardiovascular disease. They wanted to see if the beneficial effects of coffee on metabolism were from changes in the hormone adiponectin.

Women who had four or more cups of coffee per day "had significantly higher adiponectin" than those who did not drink coffee regularly, they discovered. Adiponectin plays an important role inpromoting insulin sensitivity, which protects against Type 2 diabetes.

Too little adiponectin spells trouble for insulin resistance. In another study, researchers from the German Diabetes Center warn: "Hypoadiponectinemia is closely associated with insulin resistance and risk of Type 2 diabetes."

The Harvard researchers also confirmed earlier reports that coffee can help lower inflammation. Inflammation is one other key mechanism that contributes to the development of diabetes. They also noted that absorption of glucose after meals may be slowed by the phenolics in coffee.

Coffee and Inflammation

Coffee's ability to reduce inflammation has also generated interest in Europe, where the average per capita consumption is five kilograms (about 11 pounds) per year. In the U.S., the per capita amount for 2009 was 4.1 kilograms (about nine pounds).

A study from Germany and Finland looked at the anti-inflammatory effect of coffee and how that could relate to diabetes. The Finns down the most coffee in the world, sipping over 11 kilograms (about 24.25 pounds) per year on average.

They note that coffee compounds have shown potent antioxidant properties in laboratory studies.

The European study also found a significant increase in adiponectin levels from coffee consumption, at the level of eight cups per day for habitual coffee drinkers in the study. They pointed out an interesting result from another study showing that drinking five cups of coffee for one week boosted the levels of the important antioxidant glutathione.

In conclusion, the German-Finnish research team said: "Coffee consumption appears to have favorable effects on some markers of subclinical inflammation and oxidative stress."

Good stuff to know as I sip my morning espresso.

I'd like to hear from you:

  • Are you a coffee drinker?

  • What is your favorite type of coffee, and where do you get it?
  • Have you noticed any benefits?
  • Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

    Jonathan Galland is a health writer who created over 100 recipes for the anti-inflammatory program developed with his father, Dr. Leo Galland, in their book The Fat Resistance Diet. Jonathan Galland is CEO of, an extensive online resource for the healing concepts of integrated medicine.

    For more by Jonathan Galland, click here.

    For more on diet and nutrition, click here.

    References and Further Reading:

    Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;91(4):950-7. Epub 2010 Feb 24. "Effects of coffee consumption on subclinical inflammation and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a clinical trial." Kempf K, Herder C, Erlund I, Kolb H, Martin S, Carstensen M, Koenig W, Sundvall J, Bidel S, Kuha S, Tuomilehto J. Institute of Clinical Diabetology, German Diabetes Center, Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research at Heinrich, Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.

    Diabetes Care. 2008 Mar;31(3):504-7. Epub 2007 Dec 10. "Coffee consumption is associated with higher plasma adiponectin concentrations in women with or without type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study." Williams CJ, Fargnoli JL, Hwang JJ, van Dam RM, Blackburn GL, Hu FB, Mantzoros CS. Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.

    JAMA. 2005;294(1):97-104. doi: 10.1001/jama.294.1.97 "Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes A Systematic Review" Rob M. van Dam, PhD; Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD Author Affiliations: Department of Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Dr van Dam); Department of Nutrition (Drs van Dam and Hu) and Department of Epidemiology (Dr Hu), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass; Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Hu).

    Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(22):2053-2063. "Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, and Tea Consumption in Relation to Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis" Rachel Huxley, DPhil; Crystal Man Ying Lee, PhD; Federica Barzi, PhD; Leif Timmermeister; Sebastien Czernichow, MD, PhD; Vlado Perkovic, MD, PhD; Diederick E. Grobbee, MD, PhD; David Batty, PhD; Mark Woodward, Author Affiliations: The George Institute for International Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (Drs Huxley, Lee, Barzi, Czernichow, Perkovic, Batty, and Woodward and Mr Timmermeister); Department of Public Health, Avicenne Hospital, University of Paris 13, Paris, France (Dr Czernichow); The Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, Utrecht University Medical Center, Utrecht, the Netherlands (Dr Grobbee); Medical Research Council Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland (Dr Batty); and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York (Dr Woodward).

    Diabetes Care. 2006 Feb;29(2):398-403. "Coffee, caffeine, and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study in younger and middle-aged U.S. women."van Dam RM, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB. Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA

    Ann Intern Med. 2004 Jan 6;140(1):1-8. Coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Salazar-Martinez E, Willett WC, Ascherio A, Manson JE, Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB. Harvard School of Public Health, Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.

    Businessweek, March 13, 2012"Coffee Buffs From Amazon to Rio Poise Brazil to Top U.S."

    Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis2006;16:69-77. "Coffee and type 2 diabetes: from beans to beta cells" van Dam RM

    Medicina (Kaunas). 2009;45(1):61-7. "Coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes mellitus." Radzeviciene L, Ostrauskas R. Institute of Endocrinology, Kaunas University of Medicine, Eiveniu 2, Kaunas, Lithuania.

    Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2008;33:1290-300. "Coffee, glucose homeostasis, and insulin resistance: physiological mechanisms and mediators. Tunnicliffe JM, Shearer J

    This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) or the creation of a physician--patient relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.