Coffee Supports Longevity, So Why Not Make This MD's Favorite Cold Brew?
I can't praise coffee enough, and yes, this is self-serving because coffee brings me a lot of pleasure. Decades of research now confirm that a cup or two of coffee a day might keep the doctor away.
How coffee promotes longevity.
When the Annals of Internal Medicine reported news about two massive longitudinal studies completed in 2017, one of which involved 10 European countries and more than half a million people followed for more than 16 years, the results were convincing. Participants who drank the most coffee had the lowest risk of dying—of anything. The men's risk was reduced by 12% and the women's risk was reduced by 7 percent. And "higher consumption of coffee was associated with lower risks of death, and in particular, mortality due to digestive and circulatory diseases." Significantly, in women, high levels of coffee consumption correlated with reduced A1c levels as well as reduced C-reactive protein levels.
In the second study, led by the University of Southern California, which sought to examine coffee's powers among an ethnically diverse group of people between the ages of 45 and 75 over a nearly 20-year period, the results echoed the findings above: higher consumption of coffee was associated with lower risk of death—notably, from various types of cancer.
Both studies show that coffee might be protective, but here's the interesting part: It's not the caffeine that gets the credit. Polyphenols and other bioactive compounds in coffee have antioxidant properties, and coffee's well-documented association with reduced insulin resistance, inflammation, and biomarkers of liver function are attributable to these compounds, unrelated to the caffeine. Moreover, coffee contains xanthines, chemicals that can inhibit xanthine oxidase, which, as you'll recall, is the enzyme required for the production of uric acid.
And in a third large study, using data amassed from 14,758 participants in the United States enrolled in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers from the University of British Columbia and Harvard found an inverse relationship between coffee consumption—both caffeinated and not—and uric acid levels: Uric acid decreased with increasing coffee intake. Their findings ruled out other factors that could have skewed the results, including the participants' weight, alcohol consumption, and diuretic use. They did not see this relationship between tea consumption and uric acid. So if you don't like to drink coffee because of its caffeine content, decaf can be just as beneficial for reducing acid.
In Chapter 5 of my book Drop Acid, I mention a meta-analysis spanning 19 studies that revealed increased uric acid levels among coffee-drinking women, but that did not translate to any negative effects, nor did it increase the risk of gout1. The authors were quick to point out the need for future randomized controlled trials to understand potential differences between men and women in terms of their risk for hyperuricemia and gout within the context of coffee consumption. The slightly increased risk of hyperuricemia observed among the coffee-drinking women could have very well been an "artifact"—an inconsequential finding resulting from the way the authors made their calculations (using several studies, each conducted differently). What we do know is that a robust body of evidence beyond this study has repeatedly validated a strong association between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of hyperuricemia (and gout) among both men and women.
My takeaway on coffee.
I'm a huge proponent of coffee for all adults and believe the benefits far outweigh any risks, unless of course you have any adverse reactions or allergies to the drink— these are rare but do affect some people. You can drink decaf and still reap acid-dropping benefits. Most Americans down a couple of cups of coffee a day, and I'm all for it. The one thing to be careful about, however, is ensuring that your caffeine consumption does not affect your sleep quality. It's helpful to switch to decaf coffee or caffeine-free teas in the afternoon. A good cutoff time is 2 p.m.
And without further ado, here's one of my favorite ways to enjoy coffee:
Raw Cacao Almond Cold Brew Coffee
Yield: 2 servings
Prep time: About 10 minutes
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated allulose or monk fruit to taste
- 16 ounces cold brew coffee
- Whisk the almond milk, cacao, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and sweetener together in a small bowl.
- Pour the coffee into a serving pitcher and add the almond-milk mixture.
- Stir and serve over ice.
Excerpted from DROP ACID by David Perlmutter, M.D., with Kristin Loberg. Copyright © 2022 by David Perlmutter, M.D. Used with permission of Little Brown, Spark, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
David Perlmutter, M.D. is a board-certified neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his innovative work in brain research, including the 2010 Humanitarian of the Year Award and the 2002 Linus Pauling Award. Dr. Perlmutter received his M.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine. He is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller GRAIN BRAIN, the GRAIN BRAIN COOKBOOK, BRAIN MAKER, and BRAIN WASH. He serves as medical advisor to the Dr. Oz Show. You can connect with Dr. Perlmutter on his Facebook and Twitter.