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If like so many of us, you start your day drinking a cup of joe, it may be because you simply love the taste of that gorgeous dark roast. Or maybe it’s because of the extra jolt of energy it offers that helps you make it through your morning.
But what you may not know is how many health benefits coffee delivers.
In fact, over the past 20 years, it’s been shown that drinking coffee on a regular basis is associated with the prevention of chronic and degenerative diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
And the benefits of coffee just keep adding up.
That’s because according to recent research published in the journal Kidney International Reports drinking any quantity of coffee daily could also protect your kidneys.
Protecting against acute kidney injury
In a study that involved over 14,200 participants and spanned 24 years, researchers found that drinking coffee could help you avoid one of the worst things that can happen to your kidneys.
Known as acute kidney injury, or AKI, it’s described by the National Kidney Foundation, as a “sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or a few days.”
When it occurs, waste products build up in your blood, making it hard for your kidneys to maintain the correct balance of fluids in your body and you experience symptoms like:
- Too little urine leaving your body
- Swelling in your legs and ankles, and around your eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion; nausea
- Chest pain
And in severe cases, you can even end up with seizures or in a coma.
Luckily, it looks like drinking coffee can help you protect yourself from this kidney danger.
After dividing participants up by the amount of coffee they consumed daily, the researchers found that those who drank any quantity of coffee every day had a 15 percent lower risk of AKI.
Even better, people who drank two to three cups a day benefited from a 22 to 23 percent lower risk.
And even after accounting for comorbidities, like blood pressure problems, diabetes and poor kidney function, people who enjoyed a cup of joe daily grabbed an 11 percent lower risk of developing AKI.
The mechanism of kidney protection
“We suspect that the reason for coffee’s impact on AKI risk may be that either biologically active compounds combined with caffeine or just the caffeine itself improves perfusion and oxygen utilization within the kidneys,” says Chirag Parikh, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Nephrology and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Good kidney function and tolerance to AKI is dependent on a steady blood supply and oxygen.”
And he continues, “Caffeine has been postulated to inhibit the production of molecules that cause chemical imbalances and the use of too much oxygen in the kidneys. Perhaps caffeine helps the kidneys maintain a more stable system.”
Who’s at risk of acute kidney injury?
Most cases of AKI are caused by reduced blood flow to the kidneys. And those at highest risk are typically 65 or older and may have an existing kidney problem, like chronic kidney disease, or have diabetes, liver disease or heart failure.
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