According to a recent study published in the journal Nutrients by the University of Coimbra, caffeine, polyphenols, and other natural compounds in coffee could play a role in decreasing the severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D).
NAFLD encompasses a range of liver conditions caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver. This can result in liver fibrosis, which can advance to cirrhosis (liver scarring) and even liver cancer. Unlike other liver disorders, NAFLD is frequently caused by a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in calories, rather than alcohol consumption.
Study participants with higher coffee intake had healthier livers. Subjects with higher caffeine levels were less likely to have liver fibrosis, while higher levels of non-caffeine coffee components were significantly associated with reduced fatty liver index scores. The study suggests that for overweight T2D patients, a higher intake of coffee is associated with less severe NAFLD1.
Researchers surveyed 156 middle-aged borderline-obese participants on their coffee intake, of which 98 subjects had T2D, and provided 24-hour urine samples. This was used to measure caffeine and non-caffeine metabolites – the natural products of the body breaking down coffee. This methodology follows a recent shift to analyzing urine rather than self-reported consumption, for more defined, quantitative data on coffee intake1.
Caffeine intake is associated with decreased liver fibrosis in NAFLD and other chronic liver conditions. It has been suggested that other coffee components, including polyphenols, reduce oxidative stress in the liver, in turn reducing the risk of fibrosis as well as improving glucose homeostasis in both healthy and overweight subjects. All these factors may also alleviate the severity of T2D.
Corresponding author of the study, John Griffith Jones, PhD., Senior Researcher in the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, commented: “Due to changes in modern diet and lifestyle, there is an increase in obesity rates and incidence of both T2D and NAFLD, which can ultimately develop into more severe and irreversible conditions, burdening healthcare systems. Our research is the first to observe that higher cumulative amounts of both caffeine and non-caffeine metabolites in urine are associated with a reduced severity of NAFLD in overweight people with T2D.”
Reference: “Increased Intake of Both Caffeine and Non-Caffeine Coffee Components Is Associated with Reduced NAFLD Severity in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes” by Margarida Coelho, Rita S. Patarrão, Inês Sousa-Lima, Rogério T. Ribeiro, Maria João Meneses, Rita Andrade, Vera M. Mendes, Bruno Manadas, João Filipe Raposo, M. Paula Macedo and John G. Jones, 20 December 2022, Nutrients.