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Does Coffee Cause Inflammation? Why & Who Should Avoid It

health problem

Inflammation and coffee. Coffee and inflammation. These two things don’t typically go together, but they have been linked by medical professionals. Many people wonder whether or not this go-to morning beverage is the cause of their inflammation or whether it’s helping them.

The tall and short of it is, it can cause inflammation. Coffee can also alleviate the problem. Probably not the answer you were looking for, but true, nonetheless. There have been many tests and studies done by various research teams to find the answer to this exact question.

What it comes down to is you and your health. In the article below, we will take a closer look at the effects of coffee and inflammation. We’ll also share who should steer clear of the brew, and why it works for some people.

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The Basic Properties of Coffee

It has been long known that coffee can have beneficial effects on your body. This fruit is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can help with several issues. Take a look below at the benefits of drinking coffee.

  • Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Prevents some cancers

These ailments have been improved by the daily consumption of coffee. As far as inflammation, however, we need to look closer at the make-up of the beans.

coffee-roast beans pixabay
Image Credit: gedsarts, Pixabay

The Make-up of Coffee

The coffee bean is a complex mix of active compounds. The structure of these compounds is thought to be the reason behind their medicinal benefits. Both caffeinated and decaf coffee has the same compound mixture except for caffeine which is low to non-existent in decaffeinated beans.

Here is what you will find in your coffee:

  • Caffeine (except decaf)
  • Chlorogenic acid (CGA)
  • Cafestol
  • Trigonelline
  • Kahweol

As medical professionals continue to research the effects of coffee on inflammation, they have found that caffeine is likely not the compound that is helping with the ailment.

Does Coffee Cause Inflammation? Research and Studies

As mentioned, there have been many research studies done to try and answer the question of whether coffee can help reduce inflammation, or if it’s making it worse in some people. The results of these tests are quite eye-opening.

Inflammation Studies

We found two studies in the US National Library of Medicine National Institute Of Health that indicated coffee drinkers had lower inflammatory markers than nondrinkers. In the first study, those that consumed coffee regularly had lower markers than those who didn’t drink it daily.

In the second study, panelists were asked to refrain from drinking coffee for one month while a control group continued to consume the beverage as usual for the same time. Those that gave up the brew experienced a 6% increase in their inflammatory markers.

In a similar study published by the National Library of Medicine, people were asked to consume either 32 or 64 ounces of coffee per day for one month. Each one experienced a drop in their inflammatory markers between 8 and 16%.

medical study
Image Credit: DarkoStojanovic, Pixabay

Other Anti-inflammatory Statistics Regarding Coffee

While the studies above have shown some solid evidence that coffee can help reduce inflammation in your body, some other statistics prove the point even further.

  • Quantity: Researches have found that the reduction of inflammatory markers was consistent regardless of the amount of coffee consumed. Basically, whether you drink a lot of coffee or only have a small cup per day, the positive outcome is the same.
  • Decaf Coffee: Studies have also shown that it may not be the caffeine that is causing lower markers. Decaf, (though research is limited for the non-caffeinated brew) has also shown preliminary results of reduced inflammation. What’s more, caffeine supplements don’t appear to be effective.
  • Other Caffeine: Contrary to the point above, researchers have found that other beverages containing caffeine have had a similar positive effect. Green tea, for example, has also been proven to lower inflammation. Caffeinated soda is also effective on a much lower scale. The reason behind this caffeine quagmire could be it’s a combination of compounds that makes a difference.

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Why Caffeine May Not Help Inflammation

Although many of the studies have indicated that coffee has a positive effect on inflammatory markers, it is not true for everyone. Inflammation can be a serious issue with side effects ranging from mild to severe. Take a look at these ailments associated with high inflammation markers.

  • More susceptible to infections
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Paine
  • Digestive problems
  • Cognitive decline

These are only a handful of the issues that can arise from inflammation. If you struggle with this issue, coffee is a beverage you want to be careful with, and you should consult a doctor beforehand. As mentioned, it could help, or it could make matters worse.

woman drinking coffee
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

Who Should Stay Away From Coffee?

It is not completely clear why some people have a positive experience with coffee and inflammation, and why it makes it worse in others. More than that, coffee can not only make it worse, but it can also kickstart the inflammation that may not have been present pre-java.

Some experts believe that genetics play a large role in how coffee affects your markers. While there are many other factors at play (that are quite technical), experts have developed a general idea of who is at risk:

  • Anxiety: People who suffer from anxiety have a higher risk of inflammation issues. Anxiety raises the heart rate which anxiety also contributes to. This can cause the inflammatory makers to skyrocket.
  • Inflammation: While coffee can ease the symptoms of inflammation, most medical professionals recommend that you steer clear of coffee as aggravating the issue can cause even more serious health risks.
  • Cardio Vascular Disease: People that have cardiovascular issues or diseases should also be wary. While there may be no side effects, it is better to be safe than sorry in this case.
  • Palpitations: Many people are born with heart murmurs, or they can experience heart palpitations. For the same reasons as above, if you suffer from these maladies, coffee is likely not the right beverage for you.
  • Hormones: Inflammation and hormones are more intertwined than many would think. If you have any hormone issues with even mild inflammation, you should seek out an expert before drinking coffee.

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While coffee is a favorite of many people, it is not worth the risk if you have inflammatory issues that it could potentially make worse. That being said, most studies have found that coffee can have a beneficial impact on your body, as well as your inflammatory markers. We hope this article has given you the information you need to comfortably enjoy your next cup of joe.


Featured Image: unknownuserpanama, Pixabay


Ollie Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones is a zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia. Originally from the US, he thought he loved coffee before his big move down under, but his discovery of the flat white and the cafe on every corner has taken his coffee passion to a whole new level. He's so excited to share his knowledge and experience with readers worldwide (and keep testing coffee drinks while he's at it).

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