A vast majority of the UK population reach for a nice, steaming, strong cup of coffee to get them going in the morning. Many people will confess to not being able to get going without a cuppa first. To use a figure of speech here, a cup of coffee can ‘help you to see straight’ when fatigue kicks in or refuses to go away, and it’s for this reason that so many put their faith in a strong brown beverage of caffeine filled delights. Well, as if any more justification was needed, a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has suggested that a daily cup of ‘Joe’ could help to preserve the structure and function of your eyes.
How might coffee protect your eyes?
It has been well documented that coffee contains a potent anti-oxidant in the form of chlorogenic acid (CLA –not to be confused with conjugated linoleic acid, also using the acronym CLA-). Previous studies have shown how CLA can reduce retinal degradation in mice, meaning there could be a strong association between CLA and eye health and function.
What is the retina?
A very valid question I feel…the retina is integral to sight, there is no grey area here, if you have no retina then you have no sight! The retina is a thin tissue layer that is found on the inner back wall of the eye. It is responsible for receiving and organising visual information i.e. the messages that are sent back to the eye when we look around. The problem with the retina is that it needs a lot of oxygen to function, consequently if there is too much asked of the eye and oxygen levels become depleted then this exposes the retina to a high dose of free radicals and thus…oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress and how to minimise it
Oxidative stress does literally that, it places stress on your bodily tissue (in this case the retina). Everyday metabolic functions can cause a build up of what’s known as free radicals, these are very volatile molecules which bounce around the body causing damage to all they come into contact with. Free radicals are basically un-paired electrons, meaning they are highly reactive! Consequently these atoms/molecules collide with our bodies cells resulting in the gradual degradation of our muscles, organ tissue and in this case the retina (oxidative damage).
Natural protection against these damaging molecules are present in food and drink in the form of antioxidants. Potent antioxidants include vitamins A, B, C, E and alpha, beta and delta Tocopherol. As well as these, the aforementioned chlorogenic acid is another good antioxidant meaning it is ideal for protecting the integrity of bodily tissue. Supplements such as a multi-vitamin and mineral, Acai berry and ready made antioxidant supplements. Consider Alpha Lipoic Acid too, despite its marketing being targeted towards the fat burning market, it is also a universal antioxidant too.
So get a coffee down ya?
So should you increase the amount of coffee you consume because of the high chlorogenic acid content, maybe, but researchers cannot guarantee that the CLA in the coffee works in humans. The studies have been performed on mice, and although the results were positive there is no guarantee this transcends through to humans. By all means enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning and during the day, but you’ll have to watch this space to see whether the benefits are scientifically irrefutable or not.
Men’s Fitness, (2014). Save your eyes: Drink coffee. Retrieved 14th May, 2014, from http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-drink/save-your-eyes-drink-coffee