Drinking coffee with milk may have anti-inflammatory effects, new research suggests.
Coffee, rich in polyphenols, already fights inflammation but may have an increased effect when mixed with proteins like milk.
Experts explain what this study means and how you can enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits yourself.
Many of us don’t feel ready to take on the day until we’ve had our caffeine fix, and it turns out your daily cup of joe might do more than give you an energy boost . A new study found that adding milk to your coffee could help fight inflammation.
The study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, looked at cells to see what happens when polyphenols, compounds naturally found in certain foods (like coffee), are combined with proteins. Since coffee beans are naturally rich in polyphenols and milk contains proteins, the researchers tested whether the molecules bind to each other in coffee with milk.
In fact, the molecules bonded together, and as a result, the exposed cells were twice as effective at fighting inflammation as the polyphenols alone. This means that by simply adding milk to your morning coffee, you could help your body fight inflammation twice as hard.
What are polyphenols and how do they relate to inflammation?
Polyphenols are found in many plant foods and include flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans and stilbenes, explains Melissa Perst, DCN, RDNnational media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board. “Polyphenols act as antioxidants, helping to fight free radicals (unstable molecules) and protect against cellular damage commonly seen during inflammation.”
Polyphenols decrease oxidative stress, which typically causes inflammation, explains Scott Zashin, MD, a board-certified internist and rheumatologist in Dallas, Texas. “The food industry actually uses polyphenols in different foods to try to improve quality, prevent spoilage or flavor change.” Since they are antioxidants, the food industry uses them to maintain the integrity of the foods they make, he adds. In other words, polyphenols are a natural preservative. According to Perst, they are found in berries, herbs, spices, nuts, flaxseeds, olives, tea, red wine, whole grains and some vegetables.
What happens when polyphenols are combined with proteins, like in coffee and milk?
In this study, researchers artificially induced inflammation and exposed that inflammation to cells, Dr. Zashin explains. “If you get an infection, your body will mobilize white blood cells to fight the infection, which will cause inflammation.” He further explains that cells in the study that were exposed to polyphenols and amino acids appeared to have a better response to decreasing inflammation compared to those containing polyphenols alone or those containing none, that is, the placebo group.
Therefore, “if you drink coffee (polyphenols) and milk (amino acids), it will have a more anti-inflammatory effect than coffee alone,” says Dr. Zashin.
Lower inflammation in the body leads to less risk of cell and tissue damage, which in turn could mean a decreased risk of developing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’snotes Prest.
What are other natural ways to reduce inflammation?
In addition to eating a plant-based diet that includes colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and more plant-based proteins; getting enough sleep, exercise, and managing stress can help reduce inflammation, Perst says.
In addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, consuming fewer added sugars can also help reduce inflammation in the body, says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDNregistered dietitian nutritionist and certified yoga teacher in New York.
The most important thing to take away from this study is that a diet rich in polyphenols may be anti-inflammatory, says Dr. Zashin. “In rheumatology, we often recommend a Mediterranean dietwhich is a diet rich in polyphenols, intended for patients suffering from inflammatory conditions, whether rheumatoid arthritis Or lupustherefore, this is only the study supporting this recommendation.
Dr. Zashin notes that this new research indicates that if you also add foods rich in amino acids to your diet, such as milk, salmon, chicken, or other types of lean meat, you might get an anti-inflammatory effect. even more important. .
However, as Gans points out, these results should not negate the overall benefit of eating polyphenol-rich foods, even without protein. And the study is not without drawbacks, since it was carried out on cells and not on humans. “It should also be noted that this study is an in vitro study which is not the same as a study in humans and should be considered preliminary results.”
Overall, the researchers’ findings further demonstrate the importance of eating a diet that includes a variety of polyphenol-rich foods to improve diet quality and health, Perst says.
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