Myth busting alert! More and more research is emerging showing that many of the things we're warned against, but we all enjoy indulging in, are actually good for us. Sweets, tea, salt, alcohol—all bad right? Not so. Research shows that eating a square of chocolate a day is associated with a 57% lower risk of heart attack. Tea has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Salt restriction has actually been found to be unhealthy for most people. Drinking one or two alcoholic beverages a day may make you live longer than teetotalers.
Now a study has arrived to bust yet another myth—this one reversing the notion that coffee is bad for you. The long-term study of over 185,000 people showed that drinking a cup of coffee a day was associated with a 12 percent reduced risk of death from cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, and kidney disease. Those who drank three cups a day did even better with an associated 18% lower risk!
To put this in perspective, people without known heart disease who take cholesterol statin medications get just a 2-10% lower risk of heart attack death. Meanwhile, drinking coffee has the additional benefit of being associated with a 29% lower risk of multiple sclerosis. It's also beneficial for those with liver disease. Ironically, although drinking coffee late in the evening may make it harder to fall asleep, it also helps you wake up in the morning because it turns off the adenosine sleep messenger in your body.
For those of you with CFS and fibromyalgia, unless the caffeine aggravates your adrenal low blood sugar symptoms (in which case adrenal support with Adrenoplex® or Adrenal Stress End™ can be very helpful), drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day can also be helpful for both energy and orthostatic intolerance.
So the science suggests that having one or two cups of coffee a day, a cup of tea in the afternoon, and savoring a little square of chocolate in the evening may be dramatically more healthy for you than the vast majority of medications. I could imagine that if coffee or chocolate were patented as medications, it would cost you $20,000 a year and every doctor would be prescribing it!
What makes these so healthy? It's because chocolate and coffee are natural compounds that come from beans that are chock-full of nutrients, such as phenolics. And research has shown these nutrients to not only help prevent cancer and heart disease, but also provide numerous other dramatic health benefits.
But more is not necessarily better. Drinking more than two cups of coffee a day can be associated with an increased risk of anxiety and gastritis. And although drinking one to two alcoholic beverages a day may help you live longer, those who drink more than three appear to lose this benefit.
The point is that in many cases, it's actually okay to enjoy your vices! As Mark Twain so wisely put it: "Moderation in all things—including moderation!"
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.