Few people can envision life without coffee, but is it one of the things that you have to give up after being diagnosed with a fatty liver? This is what we’re going to talk about in today’s article: is coffee good for fatty liver or not?
Before getting into all the details, I will start by sharing the conclusion: YES, you can still have coffee even after being diagnosed with a fatty liver! But there are a few things to consider and make sure you’re doing right in order not to do additional harm to your liver and we’ll cover them all today… as well as why is coffee considered not only not harmful, but actually beneficial to the liver.
Why is coffee good for fatty liver?
We’ll start with the good news: coffee is good for a liver, no matter if it is healthy or affected by NAFLD. There are countless studies who found proof for this and I will share some of the details.
For starters, a recent study published in 2016 in Barcelona, Spain showed that coffee could actually help reverse fatty liver, according to Science Daily. However, this study was conducted on mice and used the equivalent of six shots of espresso… which is a bit much if it’s a daily dose (as opposed to a one time dose).
So while the study itself is not very clear on methodology and it was only made on mice, it’s still a good start… and there’s more!
Medical News Today also reports that during an event held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, a board of experts discussed various studies reporting that coffee helps the liver. From fatty liver to reducing the risks of cirrhosis and even cancer, coffee consumption does seem to help, according to the studies presented.
It does seem that the more coffee you have, the better its effects on your body. But according to WebMD, even moderate amounts will slow down Fibrosis, Cirrhosis and Fatty Liver. In other words, drinking a lot of coffee is good for the liver.
BUT there are some other important things to consider here: caffeine can increase blood pressure levels, so if you are suffering from high blood pressure, you shouldn’t drink a lot of coffee (or any – discuss this with your doctor!). Coffee will also prevent you from sleeping, so make sure it won’t interfere with your sleep schedule, which is also extremely important when fighting a fatty liver.
It is not extremely clear at the moment what exactly makes coffee so beneficial for the liver, but it appears that not only caffeine itself helps (by creating a chemical in our body that slows the growth of the scar tissue involved in fibrosis), but also other base components of coffee, kahweol and cafestol also help the liver.
With over 1,000 substances found in our regular coffee beans, doctors still don’t know which of them and how exactly they work to help the liver, but at least their conclusion is clear and that’s all that matters, in the end: coffee is not only safe, but also recommended when dealing with a fatty liver.
Coffee with fatty liver: how to have it?
Unfortunately, your favorite Starbucks latte, or your homemade coffee with your favorite coffee creamer might turn from helpful into harmful. Unsweetened coffee itself is good for the liver… but if you add sugars, fats and other chemicals to bring in the flavors you crave, it becomes unhealthy because our liver doesn’t need all these.
But ideally, in order to get all the benefits and none of the things that potentially spoil them, you should have your coffee black and unsweetened. Adding milk could also be an option.
What about decaf?
For those who can’t have coffee because of other health problems, decaffeinated coffee becomes the only option. But the problem here is that you also need to be extremely careful about the brand and type of decaf coffee you’re having because the decaffeinating process itself involves washing the coffee beans with all sorts of unhealthy chemicals.
However, there are some more expensive ways to remove the caffeine from the beans, and that is from rinsing them with water. In other words, if you want decaf, only look for the one obtained by rinsing the coffee beans with water, as this one is the healthy option.
While there aren’t as many studies on decaf coffee and its benefits for the liver, there are some that claim that at least some of them remain even after the decaffeination process. The antioxidants and most of the other components remain even after the caffeine is removed, so most likely it is just as helpful. Or, at the very worst, it will just do no harm.
My personal opinion: how I drank coffee
When I was diagnosed with a fatty liver, I was overweight, extremely stressed, had very poor eating habits and a lot was going on in my life. As a result, I also had high blood pressure at the time and the doctors had put me on beta-blockers to keep my blood pressure under control (and I was only 30, if you can imagine!)
So for almost the entire time that I needed to reverse my fatty liver (1.5 years for those who didn’t read my other articles), I drank almost exclusively decaffeinated coffee. I personally had a water-processed Lavazza brand – but because that was the only water-decaf I could find. I am sure that any other type of decaf would be just fine.
However, after about 1 year of dieting – maybe a bit more – my blood pressure went down and normalized, so I was taken off the meds. Slowly after, I switched to drinking regular coffee. I usually have just one large cup of homemade coffee, in the morning. I add like 1/5 of a teaspoon of honey to sweeten it as I wasn’t ever able to drink it unsweetened. Sometimes, I add a bit of milk (1-2 tablespoons), but usually I don’t.
So while I am sure that it wasn’t the coffee that helped me reverse my fatty liver, as I was following my recommended diet, exercising, sleeping more and losing a lot of weight, at the very worst it didn’t do any harm.
And this should be good enough news for the coffee lovers out there. Coffee could even help your quest to reverse your fatty liver, so unless you have other medical conditions that prevent you from having it, just enjoy your coffee! It’s one of the things you don’t have to give up after being diagnosed.