Does Coffee Prolong Life?

Does Coffee Prolong Life?

Do coffee drinkers in the UK live longer?

In the middle of the year, a study was published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, which was based on an evaluation of the health data of around 500,000 British people. One of the results in particular received greater attention beyond British borders, namely the following: Britons who drink coffee have an average of 8 percent lower risk of leaving this world in the coming years than Britons who do not Drink coffee. I beg your pardon? Yes indeed. When the scientists took a closer look, it became clear that this connection was even more pronounced in people who drank between three to eight cups a day. Their risk of death was even 12 to 16 percent below the comparison value.
As always, these results should be taken with a little caution, just like hot coffee. First lean back and take your time. Studies can only examine a part of real life at a time and therefore no one should expect to have discovered the Holy Grail of eternal life by drinking coffee. What the researchers were able to determine, however, is that during the study period of those British people who had at least three cups of coffee a day, on average one fewer died than among those who did not drink coffee. Believe it or not, the most popular drink in Britain, even after this news, is still tea, not coffee. But is coffee better than tea or is it the other way around? Hopefully, we will be able to answer this question satisfactorily in the end. But first let’s take a look at Japan and thus the country with the world’s highest life expectancy!

The Japanese like to drink good coffee

Sometimes it is good to have been there yourself before the next rumor about the high life expectancy in Japan makes the rounds. What has not been chosen as a savior for eternal life: soy, because of the phytoestrogens. Fish because the Japanese eat so much of it. The purple sweet potato because … it’s purple? These are just a few of the stories why the Japanese should live longer. After being there I can say it’s true. It’s true that the Japanese like to eat some baked soybeans and tofu anyway, and the purple sweet potato is in every bento box and fish is available almost every day. But they also eat, who would have believed it, lots of white rice and noodles, nobody has heard of low carb there yet? And then meat too. Really nice fat from beef and also from pork. Chicken as well. So there is no trace of one-sided nutrition trends, but a bit of everything, including a lot of vegetables, of course, whether fermented or not. Even on Okinawa, where the people within Japan are getting a little older than on the main islands, contrary to all myths, you cannot find a superfood that could provide eternal life there. In the statistics of the Japanese health authorities, the men there with an average body mass index (BMI) of 24.3 are in third place of the “fatest Japanese” and the women with a BMI of 23.9 are even in first place – probably not definitely the first place you would choose! Apart from the fact that such values ​​still look very good compared to us Americans and the British.


So where is the key to long life? Maybe in the vegetables? Nothing. Okinawa residents are in eleventh and third from bottom (11th and 3rd?) Of 47 prefectures in Japan in terms of vegetable consumption. You could also say that they are in a good middle field when it comes to exercise and eat the least salt of all Japanese. But is that enough as an explanation? No of course not. It is more likely due to the culture of “WASHOKU” – the traditional Japanese food culture. It’s about valuing things, and when it comes to eating, that goes for pretty much everything that comes on the table. Admittedly, this tradition is also on the decline in Japan because the younger generations want to use the advantages of convenience food and food delivery instead of filling an elaborate bento box in the morning.

But there is one exception: coffee. There is hardly a country on earth where there was even in the café-bar of the hostel, where we stayed during our research in the country, single-origin coffee from Ethiopia or Kenya , nitro coffee or cold brew. Just like that and not even particularly expensive. It is not without reason that Japan is the first market outside the US to host Nestlé’s 2017. The premium coffee chain “Blue Bottle”, which was bought for $ 500 million, has already expanded with several branches in Tokyo, Kyoto and Kobe. Why? The Japanese love good coffee. Just like WASHOKU. Even if the per capita consumption according to “Coffee in Numbers 2018” in Japan is 3.3 kilograms behind Germany (5.5), but ahead of the British (2.8), it seems there is mainly pure enjoyment to go. The Finns are way ahead with 12 kilograms per capita, followed by Norway with 9.9 kilograms. Does that mean: Anyone can drink coffee, but you have to learn to enjoy it? And don’t the Japanese drink a lot of tea too, but do the British too?

You might be interested in the following topics:

Japanese tea – tea culture, history and ceremonies

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Interesting background knowledge about coffee

Coffee Knowledge: It Takes More Than Just a Book

Coffee or tea and why enjoyment counts

So we come back to the original question. Do coffee drinkers live longer? Or maybe a tea drinker after all? Neither nor. It is undisputed that both coffee and tea can have a positive effect on health, but only from drinking coffee or tea alone will probably nobody be older than mother nature and our well-groomed lifestyle intended. To dispel any doubts, here are the facts: Brits, Germans, Japanese and the record coffee drinkers from Finland and Norway are all fortunate enough to live in countries with a comparatively good health system. This is important for our consideration because possible causes for a differently high life expectancy cannot be looked for in the absence of doctors and therapies. We can concentrate entirely on coffee or tea. According to 2014 (FAO), the world and runner-up world champions in coffee consumption Finland and Norway consumed just 0.22 kilograms of tea per capita per year. In Germany, it is a little more at 0.23 kilograms. And Japan comes to about 1 kilogram. Almost three times as much was consumed in the UK: 2.8 kilograms, which put it in fifth place in the world tea list. In contrast, life expectancy in the United Kingdom is “only” 81.2 years, in Germany 81.3 years, in Finland and Norway 82.1 and 82.4 years, respectively. In Japan it is 84.2 years. Only the people in Singapore live similarly, and they drink less tea than the Japanese (0.62 kilograms) and they don’t even appear in the coffee statistics because they hardly ever consume it.


So it is obvious: Coffee drinkers do not automatically live longer and tea drinkers do not anyway. Much more important seems the way we generally consume, best with time to enjoy. For coffee, however, it is also true that coffee drinkers suffer from many diseases less often than non-coffee drinkers.