The link between the diet and the liver has long been studied by the American Liver Foundation and other organizations. Research in this area is important because it could help reduce the suffering and economic burden posed by liver diseases. New research suggests that caffeine, found in both coffee and tea, is a practical way to reduce the risks of developing chronic liver problems.
The liver, the largest organ in the body, plays a vital role of performing many complex functions which are essential for life. Since 85-90% of the blood that leaves the stomach and intestines is filtered through the liver, the liver is responsible for converting the food we eat into stored energy, and chemicals necessary for life and growth. Additionally, the liver acts as the filter to remove alcohol and toxic substances from the blood by converting them to substances that can be excreted from the body. The liver processes drugs and medications absorbed from the digestive system which enables the use of the medication by our bodies. The liver also manufactures and exports important body chemicals used by the body, such as bile, which is a substance used by our bodies to digest fats in the small intestine. (Source: The American Liver Foundation)
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Social & Scientific Systems, Inc., coffee and tea may reduce the risk of serious liver damage in people who are typically exposed to such risk. People who regularly drink too much alcohol, are overweight, or have too much iron in the blood may benefit the most from the findings of this study of nearly 10,000 coffee-drinkers. The records of the participants in a government survey were also analyzed over a 19-year period.
The study showed that those whose diets included drinking more than two cups of coffee or tea daily developed chronic liver disease at only half the rate of those who drank less than one cup daily. While the findings of the study potentially provide evidence that certain people can decrease that risk by drinking coffee it may be too early to conclude that this risk-reduction measure is a cure for all.
Dr. Constance Ruhl helped lead the study, but cautions that “it is too soon to encourage patients to increase their coffee and tea intake.” The study found that coffee provided no protection to people at risk of liver disease from other causes. For example, Viral Hepatitis is a form of liver disease that affects millions of people from different backgrounds and African Americans are more likely to develop this disease due to certain lifestyle factors. The study offered no evidence that drinking coffee would provide any benefit in such situations and, therefore, does not suggest that African Americans rush to the nearest Starbucks. Dr. Ruhl hopes the findings will offer guidance to researchers who are studying liver disease progression.