Drink Coffee to Improve Gut Permeability, Fight Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Study

Coffee and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Looks like drinking coffee will do more than give you an extra boost of energy in the morning.

According to a new study led by researchers at the University of Napoli, and presented at the 2016 International Liver Congress in Spain, drinking coffee on a daily basis (i.e. six cups of espresso for a 154 pound individual) could potentially help reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease damage by reducing gut permeability (it’s believed that increased permeability of the gut contributes to liver injury and aggravates non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

Previous studies have already confirmed the many health benefits of drinking coffee. For one, regular coffee drinkers who drink three to four cups of java a day have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (perhaps due to the presence of chlorogenic acids and caffeine found in coffee). Research also shows how coffee can reverse the damage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—but this latest study is the first to show that coffee can influence gut permeability or permeability of the intestine.

For the study, three groups of mice were analyzed accordingly over a three-month period. The first group consumed a standard diet, the second group consumed a high fat diet and the third group consumed a high fat diet plus a decaffeinated coffee solution.

Study researchers concluded that drinking coffee improved several indicators of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in mice that were fed fattening diets:

  • For one, coffee protected against the disease by increasing levels of the protein Zonulin (ZO)-1, which reduces gut permeability.
  • Coffee supplementation with a high fat diet considerably reversed levels of cholesterol, the amount of fat in the liver cells as well as ballooning degeneration of liver cells (liver cell degeneration).
  • Coffee and a high fat diet reduced weight gain over time in the mice (the mice piled on fewer pounds than mice fed the same diets without the daily doses of caffeine).
  • Coffee supplementation could cause variations in the “tight junctions”, which control intestinal permeability.

Researchers are hopeful that the study can provide further insight into the role coffee can play in fighting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Santos, R.M., et al., “Coffee consumption, obesity and type 2 diabetes: a mini-review,” European Journal of Nutrition, 2016 Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print]; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27026242.