Five crazy fast facts for coffee lovers

It’s no secret that most of us love our coffee. The internet is loaded with funny memes about our morning cup of Java that are widely shared; for good reason. Here are five crazy fast facts about coffee that most people never knew. 

  1. Coffee is good for digestion (we knew that), but it seems to stimulate the bowels in ways unknown. Researchers have found that even without the caffeine, a cup of brew stimulated muscle movement in the intestine in rat studies. 

It seems the researchers were interested in finding a simple way to help patients who have had surgery. Having a bowel movement after surgery is sometimes difficult and can lead to complications and prolonged hospital stays from paralytic ileus. 

Scientists were able to discover that coffee lowers bacteria counts in the gut in addition to their finding that the morning brew stimulates intestinal contraction, regardless of the caffeine content in the coffee. 

Those findings were presented last year at Digestive Week ® 

"When rats were treated with coffee for three days, the ability of the muscles in the small intestine to contract appeared to increase," said Xuan-Zheng Shi, PhD, lead author of the study. 

  1. Coffee acts the opposite of cannabis 

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine found drinking four to 8 cups of coffee a day decreases chemicals in the endocannabinoid system - the same system that is stimulated by marijuana. 

Researchers noted the finding has implications for health because the endocannabinoid system is linked to addiction, stress, sleep, weight control, energy and blood sugar levels. 

Despite all of the suggestions that coffee is good for health, there is still much to be learned. 

That finding was published March 15, 2018; in the Journal of Internal Medicine. 

Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shared there are many more chemicals that change in the blood when we drink coffee than previously known; stating in a press release: "The endocannabinoid pathways might impact eating behaviors; the classic case being the link between cannabis use and the munchies."

  1. We shouldn’t even like the taste of coffee

Eating or drinking something bitter is counterintuitive. Even as children tasting  plants and mudpies we spit out that which tasted bitter. Coffee is just that. So why do we like it?

A study from Northwestern Medicine and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia suggests people that are the most sensitive to bitter tastes are also most likely to drink more coffee compared to their counterparts. 

The sensitivity to bitterness that makes some people love coffee is a genetic variant. 

Despite the increased sensitivity, we learn to associate coffee with something good, such as the stimulant effect of caffeine. 

Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says "You'd expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee."

The study, "Understanding the role of bitter taste perception in coffee, tea and alcohol consumption through Mendelian randomization." was published November 2018. 

  1. Coffee byproducts are  better than Vitamin C

Don’t try consuming your coffee grounds, but did you know coffee grounds and the casing, known as the silverskin of the beans, are powerful antioxidants? 

Researchers say instead of just using the grounds for composting or abrasive skin and cleaning products perhaps coffee should be recycled and used as a nutritional food source. 

The 2015 study, published in the journal Food Science and Technology found that coffee byproducts contain 500 more times antioxidants than vitamin C. 

  1. Hot or cold, which coffee is healthier?

Whether it’s winter or summer, hot coffee is healthier than iced coffee because of higher levels of antioxidants. 

Thomas Jefferson University researchers studied the brew; hot and cold and analyzed the chemical content of each. 

What they found is that cold coffee is less acidic, but if you’re drinking it for the health benefits, consider drinking your coffee hot instead of cold. (1) 

(1) Niny Z. Rao and Megan Fuller, "Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee," Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-34392-w, 2018.