Coffee with milk can have an anti-inflammatory effect
Abstract: Adding a little milk to a cup of coffee may have anti-inflammatory effects, a new study suggests. Researchers say the combination of polyphenols and protein doubles the anti-inflammatory properties in immune cells.
Source: University of Copenhagen
Could something as simple as a cup of coffee with milk have an anti-inflammatory effect in humans? Apparently so, according to a new study from the University of Copenhagen.
The combination of protein and antioxidants doubles the anti-inflammatory properties in immune cells. The researchers hope to be able to study the health effects in humans.
Whenever bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances enter the body, our immune system responds by using white blood cells and chemicals to protect us. This reaction, known as inflammation, also occurs whenever we overuse tendons and muscles and is characteristic of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Antioxidants known as polyphenols are found in humans, plants, fruits and vegetables. This group of antioxidants is also used by the food industry to slow down oxidation and deterioration of food quality and thus avoid bad taste and rancidity. Polyphenols are also known to be healthy for humans because they help reduce oxidative stress in the body that leads to inflammation.
But much remains unknown about polyphenols. Relatively few studies have investigated what happens when polyphenols react with other molecules, such as proteins mixed into the food we then consume.
In a new study, researchers at the Department of Food Science, in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, at the University of Copenhagen investigated how polyphenols behave in combination with amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The results were promising.
“In the study, we showed that the inhibitory effect of polyphenols on inflammation in immune cells is enhanced, as polyphenols react with amino acids. As such, it is clear to imagine that this cocktail could also have a beneficial effect on inflammation in humans.
“Now we will do further research, initially on animals. After that, we hope to receive research funding that will allow us to study the effect in humans,” says Professor Marianne Nissen Lund from the Department of Food Science, who led the study.
The study was just published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Twice as good in the fight against inflammation
To investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of the combination of polyphenols with proteins, researchers applied artificial inflammation to immune cells. Some cells received different doses of polyphenols that reacted with the amino acid, while others received only polyphenols in the same doses. The control group received nothing.
The researchers observed that immune cells treated with a combination of polyphenols and amino acids were twice as effective at fighting inflammation than cells that were given only polyphenols.
“It is interesting to observe the anti-inflammatory effect in experiments on cells. And obviously, this only made us more interested in understanding these health effects in more detail. So the next step will be to study the effects in animals,” says Associate Professor Andrew Williams from the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, who is also the senior author of the study.
It is found in coffee with milk
Previous studies by researchers have shown that polyphenols bind to proteins in meat products, milk and beer. IN another new study, they tested whether the molecules bind to each other in a coffee drink with milk. Indeed, coffee beans are full of polyphenols, while milk is rich in proteins.
“Our result shows that the reaction between polyphenols and proteins also occurs in some of the milk coffee drinks we studied. In fact, the reaction occurs so quickly that it has been difficult to avoid in any of the foods we have studied so far,” says Marianne Nissen Lund.
Therefore, it is not difficult for the researcher to imagine that the reaction and potentially beneficial anti-inflammatory effect also occurs when other foods consisting of protein and fruits or vegetables are combined.
“I can imagine something similar happening in, for example, a meat dish with vegetables or a smoothie, if you make sure to add some protein like milk or yogurt,” says Marianne Nissen Lund.
Both industry and the research community have noted the major benefits of polyphenols. As such, they are working on how to add the right amounts of polyphenols to food to achieve the best quality. New research results are promising in this context as well:
“Since humans do not absorb as much polyphenols, many researchers are studying how to encapsulate polyphenols in protein structures that improve their absorption in the body. This strategy has the added benefit of enhancing the anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols,” explains Marianne Nissen Lund.
The research is financed by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, and is carried out in cooperation with the Technical University of Dresden in Germany.
The facts about polyphenols
- Polyphenols are a group of natural antioxidants important for humans.
- They prevent and delay the oxidation of healthy chemical substances and organs in our body, thereby protecting them from damage or destruction.
- Polyphenols are found in various fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, red wine and beer.
- Due to their antioxidant properties, polyphenols are used in the food industry to reduce the oxidation of fats in particular, as well as the deterioration of food quality, to avoid spoilage and rancidity.
About this news research inflammation
Author: Michael Jensen
Source: University of Copenhagen
Contact: Michael Jensen – University of Copenhagen
Picture: The image is in the public domain
Original research: Findings will appear in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry