Today, coffee lovers get some good news. A recently published study has found that coffee drinking, when done in moderation, can actually bolster your bone health. Researchers are attributing the benefit to compounds known as metabolites.
So let's dive into this study and get a clear view of what coffee can do for your bones and your health.
Metabolites, Coffee, And Your Bones
Metabolites result from the reactions that occur during metabolism, which is the process your body uses to turn food and drinks into energy. Different metabolic reactions result in different metabolites.
A new study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism examined the relationship between metabolites found in coffee and the bone mineral density (BMD) of healthy adults who reported regular coffee consumption.
The study examined data from 564 adult participants in the Hong Kong Osteoporosis Study. It investigated the incidence of osteoporosis over the course of about fifteen years. It included measurements of participants' bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and femoral neck, as well as a food frequency questionnaire. 1
Researchers compared the participants' self-reported coffee consumption frequency to their BMD and incidence of fracture. They found that 12 serum metabolites were correlated with coffee consumption and associated metabolites from coffee with bone health outcomes.1
Metabolites are compounds that result from the process of metabolism, which turns food into energy. Researchers found 12 serum metabolites associated with coffee consumption. Then they examined data from an osteoporosis study to correlate participants' bone mineral density and incidence of fracture to their coffee consumption.
The Link Between Drinking Coffee And Bone Health
The study authors found that participants who drank coffee, which is acidifying, had a higher bone mineral density than those who did not. That's great news for coffee lovers! They associated that positive result with the metabolites they found in coffee.1
They even reported cases in which coffee consumption correlated to a decrease in the risk of fracture, but that result was rare and was therefore statistically insignificant. 1
Those positive impacts of coffee drinking don't mean that more coffee automatically equals higher BMD or lower risk of fracture. A previous study found that overconsumption of coffee has a negative impact on BMD, weakening bones.2
Participants in that study who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had two to four percent lower bone density than participants who drank less than one cup of coffee per day.2
Another study helps us understand why that is. The researchers examined calcium loss in relationship to caffeine intake using caffeinated gum. They found that participants who ingested 800mg of caffeine over a six-hour period experienced a 77% increase in calcium in their urine. That's the equivalent of eight cups of coffee.3 The calcium loss is what makes excessive caffeine intake a threat to bone health.
Drinking coffee in moderation is one way to avoid the dangers of over-caffeination. Decaf coffee provides the possibility of avoiding caffeine altogether. However, decaf coffee is still acidifying, so drinking excessive decaffeinated coffee still harms your bones by contributing to acidification.
The study found that coffee drinkers had higher bone mineral density (BMD) than participants who didn't drink coffee. They attribute the benefit to the metabolites in coffee. However, other studies have associated excessive coffee drinking with reduced BMD. Over-caffeination has been shown to cause calcium loss. That explains why drinking coffee in moderation can be beneficial, while excessive consumption can lead to bone loss.
Other Benefits Of Coffee Consumption
The benefits of coffee go beyond bone health. Research has linked coffee consumption to a variety of positive outcomes.
- Prevents Neurodegenerative Diseases – A study conducted in 2010 found that coffee drinkers are less likely to experience Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, or other forms of cognitive decline.4
- Protects From Parkinson's – A study of more than eight thousand Japanese-American men found that those who drank more coffee had a lower chance of developing Parkinson's disease.5
- Improves Physical Performance – The caffeine in coffee supports your body's ability to break down fat cells for energy, improving endurance and physical performance.6
- Reduces Risk Of Mortality – A study with more than 100,000 participants found that coffee drinkers tended to live longer than participants who did not drink coffee.7
- Reduces Risk Of Depression – A study that included more than 60,000 women found that participants who drank coffee on a regular basis were less likely to experience depression.8
Research has found that the benefits of coffee consumption include: the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, protection from Parkinson's disease, improved physical performance, reduced risk of death, and reduced risk of depression.
What This Means To You
You can cozy up with a cup of coffee, as long as you drink it in moderation. In fact, the metabolites in your cup of “joe” can lead to improved bone health.
Moderation is a hallmark of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. The Program focuses on finding ways to enjoy the things you love while building stronger bones. That might mean substituting an ingredient in your favorite dish with a bone-healthier alternative. Or, as is the case with coffee, simply enjoying it in moderation to set a course for healthier bones.