The Internet has been abuzz lately with the news that coffee reverses the effects of alcohol. If you’re just skimming headlines, you might think that your morning cuppa can cure your hangover and protect you from any other damage created by alcohol.
This is, of course, incredibly false. News headlines are designed to attract your attention: that’s what they do. The point of getting your attention, however, is that you continue to read the article following the headline. Coffee doesn’t reverse the damaging effects of alcohol on the human body by a LONG shot. Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to myriad ill effects such as heart disease, pancreatitis, cancer, dementia and much more.
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The health benefits and consequences of coffee are well-documented and the benefits greatly outweigh the consequences. Coffee is also fairly well-tolerated by most people. It’s a source of potent antioxidants and trace minerals, and in most individuals it gives a pretty substantial energy boost. People who love the stuff often don’t start their day without a cup (the author of this article included). Coffee has been shown to combat stress, fatigue, Parkinson’s, Type II diabetes, liver heart disease and more.
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Recent studies have shown a significant new benefit of coffee: the ability to combat liver disease, especially the disease alcoholics often contract: cirrhosis. Analysis of previous studies encompassing 430,000 participants showed that two cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of cirrhosis by up to 44%. While this is excellent news for alcoholics whose abuse might otherwise result in cirrhosis, it doesn’t mean that you can abuse alcohol and swig a couple of cups of coffee daily and not feel any negative effects.
As Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York, said, “Unfortunately, although coffee contains compounds that have antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties, drinking a few cups of coffee a day cannot undo the systematic damage that is the result of being overweight or obese, sedentary, excessive alcohol consumption or drastically mitigate an unhealthy diet.”
So for now, it’s still a good idea to consume alcohol in low to moderate quantities: one drink a day for women and two for men.
And if you’re drinking more than that, you might want to consider reducing your intake or, if you find that you can’t, getting some help to stop drinking. Many people have found this program useful, for example, and many other treatment options exist.