Thursday 05 October 2023

Research reveals coffee consumption may reduce severity of fatty liver disease in those with type 2 diabetes

New scientific research suggests both caffeine and polyphenols in coffee may help to reduce the severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) among overweight participants with type 2 diabetes

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OIMBRA, Portugal – A new study by the University of Coimbra, published in Nutrients, has revealed that caffeine, polyphenols, and other natural products found in coffee may help reduce the severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) among overweight people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) (1).

Coffee and diabetes

NAFLD is a collective term for liver disorders caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. These can lead to liver fibrosis, which can progress to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. NAFLD is not the result of excessive alcohol consumption, but is instead often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle with little exercise and a high-calorie diet.

Study participants with higher coffee intake had healthier livers. Subjects with higher caffeine levels were less likely to have liver fibrosis, while higher levels of non-caffeine coffee components were significantly associated with reduced fatty liver index scores. The study suggests that for overweight T2D patients, a higher intake of coffee is associated with less severe NAFLD (1).

Researchers surveyed 156 middle-aged borderline-obese participants on their coffee intake, of which 98 subjects had T2D and provided 24-hour urine samples. This was used to measure caffeine and non-caffeine metabolites – the natural products of the body breaking down coffee. This methodology follows a recent shift to analysing urine rather than self-reported consumption, for more defined, quantitative data on coffee intake (1).

Caffeine intake is associated with decreased liver fibrosis in NAFLD and other chronic liver conditions (2-5). It has been suggested that other coffee components, including polyphenols, reduce oxidative stress in the liver, in turn reducing the risk of fibrosis (6) as well as improving glucose homeostasis in both healthy and overweight subjects (7,8). All these factors may also alleviate the severity of T2D.

Diet and lifestyle

Corresponding author of the study, John Griffith Jones, PhD., Senior Researcher in the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, commented: “Due to changes in modern diet and lifestyle, there is an increase in obesity rates and incidence of both T2D and NAFLD, which can ultimately develop into more severe and irreversible conditions, burdening healthcare systems. Our research is the first to observe that higher cumulative amounts of both caffeine and non-caffeine metabolites in urine are associated with a reduced severity of NAFLD in overweight people with T2D.”

This research study is published in Nutrients, titled: ‘Increased intake of both caffeine and non-caffeine coffee components is associated with reduced NAFLD severity in subjects with type 2 diabetes.’ It was sponsored by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC).

Readers interested in finding out more about coffee and health can visit this site.


  1. Coelho, M. et al. (2022). Increased intake of both caffeine and non-caffeine coffee components is associated with reduced NAFLD severity in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Nutrients. Published online:
  2. Molloy, J.W. et al. (2012). Association of coffee and caffeine consumption with fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and degree of hepatic fibrosis. Hepatol, 55:429-472.
  3. Soleimani, D. et al. (2019): Dietary patterns in relation to hepatic fibrosis among patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Diab, Metab Synd, Obesity, 12:315-324.
  4. Khalaf, N. et al. (2015). Coffee and caffeine are associated with decreased risk of advanced hepatic fibrosis among patients with hepatitis C. Clin Gastro & Hepatol, 13:1521-31.
  5. Shen, H.F. et al. (2016). Association between caffeine consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Ther Adv Gastroenterol, 9:113-120.
  6. Salomone, F. et al. (2017): Molecular Bases Underlying the Hepatoprotective Effects of Coffee. Nutrients, 9(1):85
  7. van Dijk, A.E. (2009). Acute Effects of Decaffeinated Coffee and the Major Coffee Components Chlorogenic Acid and Trigonelline on Glucose Tolerance. Diab Care, 32:1023-1025.
  8. Inoue, M. and Tsugane, S. (2019): Coffee Drinking and Reduced Risk of Liver Cancer: Update on Epidemiological Findings and Potential Mechanisms. Curr Nutr Rep, 8(3):182-186.
  9. EFSA (2015). Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine, EFSA Journal, 13(5):4102.

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