Are the health claims of coffee really true?

  • Seniors at Sheila Ray Senior Center in Elk Grove Village exercise with weights to get in strength training. Begin and progress with strength-training exercises at a level appropriate for your health and fitness.

    Seniors at Sheila Ray Senior Center in Elk Grove Village exercise with weights to get in strength training. Begin and progress with strength-training exercises at a level appropriate for your health and fitness. Bob Chwedyk/Daily Herald file photo

 
Updated 3/25/2016 7:58 AM

Q: Are the claims true that coffee is really healthy?

A: Evidence now shows that coffee in moderate amounts is linked with lower risk of several chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's and some cancers. For example, coffee lowers risk of endometrial and liver cancer risk, according to the latest scientific reports from AICR/WCRF. Research also links coffee to lower risk of death from heart disease and longer overall survival.

 

For endometrial cancer, risk was lower regardless of whether coffee was regular or decaffeinated; findings on other cancers aren't clear on the influence of choosing regular or decaf. Some of the substances in coffee that may protect health and reduce cancer risk include chlorogenic acids, caffeoylquininic acid and lignans. In laboratory tests, these compounds seem to turn on the antioxidant defense system and enzymes that deactivate carcinogens, and reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. This would promote healthy levels of hormones related to cancer and other chronic diseases.

Studies looking at different brewing methods for preparing coffee so far do not provide consistent answers about whether those choices influence the protective effects of coffee. Since many aspects of health linked with coffee are worsened by excess weight, watch out for sugar, syrups and cream added to coffee. Select low-calorie coffee options that replace high-calorie drinks to help reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Learn more from AICR's Foods that Fight Cancer including coffee at aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/coffee.html.

Q: I'm well over 65, do I need to be doing strength-type training exercises?

A: Muscle-strengthening exercise is important for everyone of all ages, and it's definitely important for older adults. Strength training exercises play a big role in maintaining or rebuilding the muscle you need to carry out daily living activities and get around to participate in activities you enjoy. Loss of muscle is a common problem in older adults and a well-rounded exercise plan can help. Both aerobic exercise like walking and weight bearing exercise with resistance training can benefit bone density, help combat osteoporosis, and improve balance.

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US government physical activity guidelines emphasize that all adults, including those over age 65, should do muscle-strengthening activities (such as lifting weights or using resistance bands) that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week. The six major muscle groups are chest, shoulders, arms, back, abdomen and legs. Of course, strength-building exercise must be appropriate for each individual, and older adults who have not done this type of exercise before or who are recovering from reduced activity during an illness need to be cautious not to overdo or choose types or movements that lead to injury. Begin and progress with strength-training exercises at a level appropriate for your health and fitness. Allow one or two days between exercise sessions for any particular muscle group.

To help you get started, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tufts University have developed a strength-training program for adults called Growing Stronger. You can follow this program on the interactive website (it includes animations for how to do the exercises) or download or order a booklet. For people of any age who have some sort of orthopedic or heart-related health issue, it's important to discuss what kinds of strength-training you should do with your physician.

• The American Institute for Cancer Research is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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