In many senses of the term, coffee is a drug. Yes, it is addictive, but it has also been shown to be incredibly beneficial to pretty much every part of your body. It is the closest thing to a panacea as has ever been seen. Much of coffee’s ameliorative attributes have generally been chalked up to its anti-inflammatory properties. But according to one study, coffee may not have quite the anti-inflammatory effect we once thought.
As reported by Nutra Ingredients, researchers from the University of the Balearic Islands in Palma, Spain set out to examine how regular caffeine consumption as well as activity levels and body fat accumulation affected inflammation in the body. For their study, published in the journal Nutrients, researchers examined the “plasma concentrations of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory markers” in 244 participants (112 men and 132 women) between the ages of 18 and 55. Measuring participants’ height, weight, and body composition and cross-referencing them against individuals’ self-reported information about caffeine intake, diet, activity levels, and sitting time, researchers were able to notice a trend in inflammatory markers.
Most notably, they found a link between “low caffeine intake” and slightly lower levels of the C-reactive protein, a pro-inflammation marker. In short, caffeine only has a small effect in prohibiting inflammation when measuring plasma. Much stronger associations were found when looking at body fat percentage, where the higher the percentage, the increased number of CRP markers. The “clearest link,” per Nutra Ingredients, was between both visceral fat and sitting time and CRP. So while coffee is important, physical activity and healthy body fat levels play much larger roles in bodily inflammation or lack thereof.
Nonetheless, the good news for coffee drinkers is that coffee, while nominally anti-inflammatory in this regard, gives you the vim and vigor to get up and get moving. It’s like an anti-inflammatory precursor, which still counts in my book.