Study: Increased Coffee Consumption May Reduce Severity of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

Individuals with higher caffeine levels were less likely to have liver fibrosis, while higher levels of non-caffeine coffee components were associated with reduced fatty liver index scores.

Caffeine, polyphenols, and other natural products found in coffee may help reduce the severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) among overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes, according to study results published in Nutrients.

NAFLD is a collective term for liver disorders caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. These can result in liver fibrosis, which can progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer. NAFLD is not the result of excessive alcohol consumption but is instead often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle with little exercise and a high calorie diet.

Investigators surveyed 156 middle-aged borderline obese patients about their coffee intake, of whom 98 subjects had type 2 diabetes and provided 24-hour urine samples. This was used to measure caffeine and non-caffeine metabolites—the natural products of the body breaking down coffee. This methodology reflects a recent shift to analyzing urine rather than self-reported consumption, for more defined, quantitative data on coffee intake.

In the study, researchers found that participants with higher coffee intake had healthier livers. Subjects with higher caffeine levels were less likely to have liver fibrosis, whereas higher levels of non-caffeine coffee components were significantly associated with reduced fatty liver index scores. The study suggests that for overweight patients with type 2 diabetes, a higher intake of coffee is associated with less severe NAFLD.

Caffeine intake is associated with decreased liver fibrosis in NAFLD and other chronic liver conditions, according to the study. It has been suggested that other coffee components, including polyphenols, reduce oxidative stress in the liver, in turn reducing the risk of fibrosis as well as improving glucose homeostasis in both healthy and overweight subjects. All of these factors can alleviate the severity of type 2 diabetes.

“Due to changes in modern diet and lifestyle, there is an increase in obesity rates and incidence of both [type 2 diabetes] and NAFLD, which can ultimately develop into more severe and irreversible conditions, burdening health care systems,” said corresponding author John G. Jones, PhD, a senior researcher in the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, in a press release. “Our research is the first to observe that higher cumulative amounts of both caffeine and non-caffeine metabolites in urine are associated with a reduced severity of NAFLD in overweight people with [type 2 diabetes].”

REFERENCE

New research reveals increased coffee consumption may reduce severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in those with type 2 diabetes. News release. EurekAlert; January 12, 2023. Accessed January 16, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/976216

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