Tag Archives: Diabetes mellitus type 2

Straight, No Chaser: The Risks and Benefits of Coffee


Today, I come to praise coffee, not to bury it—and I don’t even drink it. Here’s the point: Coffee is a reasonably healthy beverage choice. The problem with coffee appears to be what you do to it! More about that in a moment. I’d like to review recent findings from a massive study on coffee and health from the Harvard School of Public Health. (Go Crimson!)
Those of you who’ve made a big deal of reducing your coffee intake as a means of improving your health would be much better off focusing on better eating and exercise habits, and on smoking and alcohol cessation. Regarding coffee specifically, it’s important to state that any discussion of the risks and benefits of coffee are in reference to black coffee. If you’re guzzling high calorie coffee products with lots of sugar, whipped cream, caramel and other additives that increase calories and fat, you’ve migrated to an entirely different conversation, and that one isn’t so pleasant.
Coffee has beneficial health effects, including the following:

  • It may protect against Type 2 diabetes.
  • It may protect against Parkinson’s disease.
  • It may protect against liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
  • People who regularly drink coffee actually have a somewhat lower risk of death from heart disease than those who rarely drink coffee.

The “problem with coffee” is more about what you do while you’re drinking coffee.

  • Drinking coffee often occurs while smoking cigarettes, and if you’re a smoker you’re not getting any health benefits from pretty much anything associated with that activity.
  • People who drink coffee are less likely to exercise and use dietary supplements, and they tend to have a less healthy diet.
  • The weight of evidence on whether coffee increases the risk of heart disease or certain cancers is clearly leaning toward suggesting the negative ramifications are associated with the other habits of coffee drinkers and not the coffee consumption itself.
  • As mentioned earlier and to further the last point, adding syrups, sugars and milks can increase the caloric intake high enough that regular consumption may lead to weight gain and increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes.

What about tea? Chinese data is different than US data. US research has not shown the type of benefits of tea that Chinese research has. It is thought that this is likely due to US tea drinkers consuming weaker varieties of tea, and they tend to drink less of it. (The Chinese studies feature approximately a liter a day of Oolong tea.)
Here are some bottom line considerations:

  • Drinking as much as up to six cups a day of black coffee is not associated with increased risk of death from any cause, including death from cancer or cardiovascular disease.
  • If you are a pregnant female, have difficulty controlling diabetes or high blood pressure, or if coffee gives you tremors or palpitations, you may wish to avoid it.
  • You should brew coffee with a paper filter, to remove a substance that causes increases in LDL cholesterol.
  • Coffee likely has health benefits, but more research needs to be done to definitively state the extent of those benefits.
  • The health benefits of coffee are likely neutralized or overrun by unhealthy substances added to coffee and associated unhealthy habits of coffee drinkers.

Maybe coffee is another of those instances in which Straight, No Chaser is best!
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Straight, No Chaser: Diabetes Basics Made Simple

Somehow, I’ve managed not to talk much about diabetes. What an oversight that has been, and it’s one that is about to be corrected. As much as I’ve talked about the importance of your blood vessels, diabetes is a disease that further drives that point home. However, I’ll get to that later. First here’s some basic information for you.
We eat, and the process of digestion is for the purpose of converting food into glucose (sugar) that’s used by our body for energy. The blood delivers the glucose to different organs of the body where the cells take it up for use. In order for that process to work, an organ that’s part of the digestive tract called the pancreas has to produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin facilitates the glucose getting from the blood to inside the cells. Diabetes is a disease where insulin isn’t being made by the pancreas or isn’t working optimally.
Now think about what happens when you’re not getting sugar into your cells. It’s as if you’re starving (because physiologically, you might as well be). You get symptoms such as weight loss, hunger, fatigue and excessive thirst. Because your cells don’t have energy, they aren’t functioning well. In fact, blood and nerve vessels lose significant function, resulting in significant vision loss and lack of sensitivity in your extremities. Anyone who’s been a diabetic for about 10 years know this because you’re wearing glasses and because you’ve lost a fair amount of sensation, especially in your feet. There are other symptoms that are variations of the same theme, including excessive urination, dry skin, increased infection rate and slower healing from those infections – all due to poor function of your blood vessels.
Sometimes diabetes is a disease that happens to you because of unlucky genetics (or simply a family history). Other times it is a disease that you find. Risk factors for developing diabetes includes obesity, older age, and physical inactivity. Gestational diabetes (i.e. that occurring during pregnancy) is an entirely different conversation.
Let’s take a moment to discuss prevention and treatment. I haven’t discussed the different types of diabetes (but will if you ask questions), but the risk of one form of diabetes in particular can be reduced by – you guessed it – diet and exercise. In fact, diet, exercise and medications are the three legs of the diabetes treatment stool regardless of type. Some patients require regular insulin injections and others require pills. Still others who are successful with diet and exercise are able to markedly reduce, and in some instances eliminate medications.
I will have additional comments on diabetes in future posts. I welcome your questions and comments.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what  http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
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