My love for coffee needs no introduction, but the connection between coffee intake and liver health just might merit one.
Surprised by this headline?
You aren’t alone – I could hardly believe the coincidence after stumbling upon significant scientific evidence suggesting regular coffee intake has the potential to improve liver health in a variety of contexts.
With my new book, The Essential Diet For Fatty Liver Disease, set to ship in a few shorts weeks – the timing simply could not be better to explore this topic further.
Given that coffee tends to contain more antioxidants (both in term of quantity, and variety) per serving than most foods, it is perhaps unsurprising that observational scientific data continues to uncover novel findings related to its protective health effects.
Did you know, for example, that coffee intake has long been demonstrated by observational data to lower type 2 diabetes risk?
T2DM, the subject of one of my more recent books, happens to be one of the many metabolic risk factors for fatty liver disease.
I’ve written a piece identifying some key foods that help lower blood sugar and A1C, feel free to take a look if you find yourself needing guidance in this area.
Last tangent I promise, on to the reason you’re here.
Coffee Intake & Liver Cancer
Some of you may know that I’ve written previously for the American Institute For Cancer Research, an esteemed institution which shares evidence-based information on various aspects of cancer prevention.
The AICR is very cautious when making claims about a food or beverage’s role in cancer prevention, so when they acknowledge that consuming an average of one cup of coffee per day reduces liver cancer risk – you know there is something to it.
And it doesn’t end there.
Coffee Intake & NAFLD Risk
A 2021 study out of BMC Public Health supported the AICR in drawing their conclusions, but also demonstrated that as compared to non-coffee drinkers those who drink coffee regularly (regardless of decaf, instant or ground) had a lower risk of all types of chronic liver diseases including NAFLD (the most common type).
These findings were further supported by 2021 systematic review & meta-analysis data out of Frontiers In Pharmacology which concluded;
“[M]ost studies showed that individuals in the general population who regularly drank coffee were significantly associated with a lower NAFLD incidence than those who did not.”
Taken together, there is some indication from the available observational evidence that coffee drinkers are at less risk of NAFLD than non drinker are.
Coffee Intake In Those Living With NAFLD
Coffee may play a role in reducing one’s risk of ever getting NALD, but does it help those who already have it?
It just might.
Fibrosis, or scarring of the liver, can occur in progressive fashion in those living with NAFLD and is a major sign that the condition is worsening.
Multiple observational studies (1,2,3,4) have demonstrated that, among those living with NAFLD, coffee drinkers had a reduction in fibrosis risk.
Coffee intake appears to be beneficial to liver health in a variety of contexts which are likely driven by its robust antioxidant content given that the benefits were also found in decaf drinkers.
More research will be required to understand the exact mechanisms and draw more definitive conclusions, but suffice to say the totality of the observational evidence seems to point strongly in the direction described in today’s paper.
If novel scientific findings like these excite you, just wait until you rip open the pages of my new book – The Essential Diet For Fatty Liver – which is available to order today!
It’s a must have for those looking to learn all about the best available science around the role diet plays in preventing and managing fatty liver, with plenty of recipes to boot.
Andy De Santis RD MPH
Don’t like coffee? Green tea may help too!