Most people can't imagine starting their day without a stimulating cup of coffee or tea. Either one of these beverages can help you feel more alert, but a recent study suggests that these drinks can bring unexpected health benefits.
The study, which was conducted by researchers from Duke University School of Medicine and the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, found that the regular consumption of caffeine may be helpful to patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In fact, caffeine consumption actually appears to decrease fatty liver in people with the disease.
Fatty liver disease is commonly associated with over consumption of alcohol. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, also called NAFLD, is a related condition that frequently occurs in patients who are obese and have diabetes, but don't abuse alcohol. Doctors have yet to discover effective methods for treating NAFLD beyond an improved diet and increased exercise. Previous research suggests that as much as 30 percent of Americans have NAFLD, which ably illustrates why Duke University would choose to focus a study on the ailment. Instances of NAFLD are increasing in Singapore, leading to the joint effort by the two educational institutions.
The authors of the study, Paul Yen, M.D. and Rohit Sinha, Ph.D., fed mice a high fat diet, essentially giving the rodents NAFLD. Next, the mice were dosed with caffeine. Lipids stored in the liver cells of the mice were metabolized much more rapidly under the influence of caffeine. Moreover, the fatty liver in the rodents actually began to decrease.
The research suggests a new treatment method for those suffering from NAFLD. Drinking approximately four cups of tea or coffee on a daily basis is thought to be enough to produce beneficial effects in humans.
Dr. Yen noted that coffee and tea "have a reputation for being 'bad' for health," and that "the notion that they may be therapeutic" is a new concept that is worthy of exploration. Scientists hope that the findings may lead to the creation of new drugs that will carry the benefits of sensible caffeine consumption without the undesirable effects often associated with caffeine.