Coffee’s Health Claims

Over the years there have been claims that coffee’s bad for us, then it has been stated that coffee, in moderation, is good for us. Sharpen your mental acuity, lose weight, increase your athletic performance, etc. Years ago Bea’s doctor recommended drinking two cups of coffee a day for mental alertness.

I had blogged a little about making cold brew. I never thought of it as healthier than hot coffee, but I did pass on the claim of supposed lower acidity than hot brew. However, this article debunks that point, as well as other cold brew health claims that are floating around out there.

The latest news that the media grabbed on to a couple of weeks ago had to do with coffee and brown fat. The suggestion was that coffee might be helpful in managing body weight and regulating blood sugar. I’m not going to summarize it since it is done nicely in this article from the University of Nottingham, and that article also links to the publication in Scientific Reports. Note, the study was done on only nine individuals — that fact wasn’t mentioned in many of the lighter online articles.

Brown fat has been an interesting topic for me for a while. It came up on my radar when I was interested in cold water swimming. I have swum most of my life, and the challenge of open water, ocean, and cold water swims kept the sport interesting for me after years of soaking up chlorine, going back and forth in a pool. When you look at the long distance cold water swimmers, they usually have some fat on them. They don’t usually look like a lean triathlete or endurance runner.

How do you train for an event with a climate or conditions unlike where you live? We know of a triathlete in northern California who would run in a wetsuit in the middle of the afternoon to simulate the Kona heat he’d encounter in the run leg of the Ironman World Championship at Kona.

Years ago I was on a 6-person swim relay team for the famed Maui Channel Swim. It was a horrible year for the event. Unbelievably, our boat sank on the way to the start of the race in Lanai. Luckily, a generous, very warm-hearted team from Oahu with a large enough boat volunteered to let us swim with them.

We fantasized how it’d be fun to later invite them to swim the Nevada-California Trans Tahoe Relay, a similar relay swim, but across Lake Tahoe, where water temps are 55-60, versus 77-79 of the Maui Channel Swim. How would Hawaii swimmers train for cold, open water swims and increase their brown fat? There aren’t even cold water lakes. We only thought of frequent cold showers. Here’s a poetic article that’s on the National Geographic website about cold water swimming. This is not the experience you have in Hawaiian waters. Are we now supposed to conclude we can ditch the cold showers and just drink a lot of coffee to help access those brown fat functions?

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