Tea and coffee are now known to confer a whole host of health benefits—besides the focus and mental clarity given by daily doses of caffeine—like protecting teeth, boosting heart health, reducing risk of diabetes, and defending against Alzheimer’s because of the antioxidants that pack the brews. So getting your morning slug of joe or afternoon cuppa is recommended by most docs, and a new study published in the Journal of Hepatology has found that both drinks can shield your liver from developing chronic disease.
The idea for the research was sparked by the fact that the typical Western diet is filled with so much junk that leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and knowledge of tea and coffee’s many health benefits. “There is quite some epidemiological, but also experimental, data suggesting that coffee has health benefits on liver enzyme elevations, viral hepatitis, NAFLD, cirrhosis, and liver cancer,” said study head Sarwa Darwish Murad, M.D., Ph.D. “Beyond the liver, coffee has been demonstrated to be inversely associated with overall mortality in the general population.”
For the study, the doctors analyzed data on about 2,500 people who took part in the Rotterdam Study in the Netherlands, where they were extensively tested, including comprehensive liver scans, and given a survey that contained detailed questions on tea- and coffee-drinking habits. Coffee consumption was divided into either none, moderate (0–3 cups a day), or frequent (more than 3 cups a day), and tea was singled out into herbal, green, or black, with consumption as either none or some.
The study showed that those who frequently drank coffee had much lower odds of liver fibrosis, or less scarring of the liver, no matter where or how they lived. And those who drank any herbal tea at all also showed reduced risk of liver fibrosis in the analysis. Other researchers not involved with the study suggested that, since it was fairly limited to older white people and there weren’t many in the no-coffee or no-tea groups, we should be skeptical of the results.
But if you drink soda or diet soft drinks at the moment, do yourself a favor and switch over to tea or coffee, and down plenty of water. Skip fruit juices and any other sweetened juice, and studies show you’ll live a longer and healthier life.