Is there a link between coffee and liver health? We reach for our morning coffee to help us wake up and stay alert. We know that studies continue to show the many benefits of drinking coffee such as improving brain function and living longer. Now there is another showing there is a link with coffee and liver health. Overall, coffee is very good for your liver.
“Coffee is especially helpful when it comes to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease,” says Dr. Wakim-Fleming.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when extra fat builds up in liver cells. It affects 1 in 4 people in the U.S., mostly in those who carry excess weight or have diabetes or high cholesterol. Over time, it can cause cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. That scarring can lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
But research shows that people who drink a lot of coffee have a lower risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Drinking coffee can lower the odds of those with Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease from developing cirrhosis. They added that coffee may also help those with hepatitis C, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Even people who have already developed cirrhosis are less likely to die from it when they drink more coffee.
Is this the case for decaf as well?
The link between drinking coffee and liver seems to be from the caffeine so you won’t get this benefit from drinking decaf. Dr. Wakim-Fleming says. “There’s something inherent about caffeine that is helpful to the liver.”
There are other beneficial ingredients as well. “Coffee contains antioxidants and other compounds that all play a big role in decreasing liver inflammation,” she adds.
How much coffee is needed for this benefit?
It seems that you need to be a moderate to heavy coffee drinker to see the benefit of coffee and liver health.
From the same article:
“We recommend at least three cups every day to help prevent liver problems,” Dr. Wakim-Fleming says. And if you have hepatitis or fatty liver disease, even more — as many as four, five or even six cups a day — might be helpful.
However, not everyone can handle that much coffee without bouncing off the walls (or worse). It can trigger headaches, difficulty initiating sleep, anxiety and jitters in some people. Dr. Wakim-Fleming only suggests going this route if you can tolerate it.
They also recommend drinking your coffee black to add any additional sugars or fat to your diet, which can put a further strain on your liver.
Finally, they stress that coffee is not a miracle drug and work reverse liver damage, especially that associated with heavy use of alcohol. So, be kind to your liver and use coffee to prevent further damage.