Java Jive: MS and the Benefits of Coffee

Last updated: May 2016

Whether it’s a skinny latte or a simple cup of Folger’s, coffee has long been thought to provide more than just a morning eye-opener. For starters, coffee is the number one anti-oxidant in the US. Moreover, its superstar ingredient, caffeine, has been shown to increase fat-burning by as much as 29% in people of normal weight and 10% in obese people, as well as raise the metabolic rate in humans by 3-11%. It’s no wonder that caffeine is in virtually every fat-burning and weight loss product. And the benefits don’t stop there.

Just one cup of coffee contains a small percentage of vitamin B6, B12, niacin, potassium, magnesium and manganese. A heavy coffee drinker will get a significant vitamin and mineral boost. In addition, it makes us smarter and faster, and improves our exercise performance. It fights depression and improves our sense of well-being. That’s because caffeine increases the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine, raising our energy levels and improving memory, mood, concentration, cognitive function, and response times. If you are thinking that the benefits of coffee sound as though they could extend to the deficits that MS can cause, you are right on track.

A March 3, 2016 report claimed that heavy coffee drinking might lower the risk of developing MS. In a 6,700 person study, heavy coffee intake—six cups per day—appeared to reduce the risk of developing MS by as much as one-third compared to the control group. But this doesn’t mean that becoming a heavy coffee drinker will necessarily protect you from MS or have an effect on your disease progress if you already have MS, researchers were quick to point out.

Some researchers agree that although there is evidence of connection between coffee and MS, other properties in coffee are likely providing some of those health benefits. But caffeine is still a superstar. Some studies have found that caffeine protected lab mice from EAE by hindering the inflammatory process in their brains and spinal cords. Still other studies have connected higher coffee intake with lowering the risk of other neurological diseases in humans such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as heart disease, liver cancer, and Type II diabetes. Risk-lowering evidence is much more clear-cut in these medical conditions than in multiple sclerosis, however.

I only wish I could have been the lucky recipient of all the neurological benefits coffee provides. I’ve been a 3-4 cup per day strong coffee drinker for the past forty years, but I developed MS anyway. And, alas, if coffee uniformly made us smarter, by now my IQ should be off the charts and Stephen Hawking would be texting me for advice. Oh the other hand, it’s possible that I began life as a total idiot and coffee boosted my IQ to its currently humble but relatively intelligent level.

However dubious the coffee and MS connection might seem, I’d hitch my wagon to coffee-drinking for all the good it has been proven to do across the board. You can keep your acai berries and expensive power drinks. I’m going to stick with the boring old superstar whose performance might not be new or sexy or exciting. It just works its little heart out on my cardiovascular, neurological, endocrine, and digestive systems. Because, really, when was the last time you were tantalized by the rich, luscious aroma of 5-Hour Energy? Check out your local Speedway and see how many people grab gas station coffee over a blister pack of No-Doz.

Coffee. The perfect food.1,2

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