Trying to figure out if coffee is good or bad is like Homer Simpson trying to buy Frogurt. But there’s one thing it def has going for it: Fighting inflammation!

Yup… it seems like every time we find a reason to love our morning cup of joe, some study comes along to try to take it away. But in this case the news is happy. While coffee and inflammation haven’t been thoroughly studied, preliminary research may give us another pro in the cuppa category.

Share on Pinterest
Oxygen/Getty Images

When you think of ingredients that make up an anti-inflammatory diet, a hot cup of coffee doesn’t really come to mind.

Typically, leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and fatty fish are recommended for calming inflammation in the body. Notice how none of those foods contain psychoactive drugs… like caffeine. (Yes, it’s technically a drug.)

But coffee is more than just delicious crushed up beans that deliver a jolt. It contains a mixture of 1,000 bioactive compounds including chlorogenic acids, cafestol, kahweol, and of course, caffeine.

In a few studies, those very compounds have been found to reduce inflammation. One study found that coffee consumption reduced 10 markers of inflammation among regular drinkers.

Despite those happy findings, a review of 15 studies found that certain markers of inflammation go up with caffeine intake. However, the researchers found that coffee consumption had a predominantly anti-inflammatory effect.

Another study came to the very helpful conclusion of, “Yeah it either makes you more inflamed or less inflamed, but it does something!” (Not an exact quote from the study authors, FYI.)

Let’s get this straight: Technically, inflammation can be good thing. When a potential threat enters the body, the immune system uses inflammation as a means to protect and heal.

The bad news? Low grade, chronic inflammation — the kind that can come from certain lifestyle choices like smoking, excessive drinking, being overly sedentary, or eating a lot of highly processed food — is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer.

So when something’s anti-inflammatory, that’s a big deal! That’s why people are eager to find out the relationship between coffee and inflammation. Think about it: Getting people to eat salmon and kale every day can be a hard sell. Telling people to drink more coffee is a blessing.

Though the evidence isn’t conclusive, things are looking good for coffee’s inflammation fight. In fact, one review found that higher coffee consumption was linked to an 18 percent lower risk of cancer, thanks in part to its anti-inflammatory effects.

Best of all? The people that had the greatest benefit were the ones who sipped 3 to 4 cups a day. (Feel free to share this fact the next time your cubicle mate snarks on you for getting another refill.)

What about when you get a funny tummy after drinking coffee? Isn’t that inflammation?

Though caffeine affects everyone differently, your morning (or afternoon) mud doesn’t actually cause dyspepsia — science speak for an upset stomach. However, coffee can aggravate or worsen symptoms in people with dyspepsia.

Sure, it can up your risk for heartburn and might send you running to the bathroom a little faster. But coffee isn’t actually causing your digestive tract to become inflamed. Hallelujah.

There’s not a lot of evidence to go on, but some research shows that taking a caffeine supplement alone did not reduce inflammation.

That suggests that the wide variety of bioactive compounds found in coffee work together to reduce inflammation, or that caffeine only helps with inflammation when it works in tandem with coffee’s other compounds.

All of which means… it’s not clear if decaf coffee helps with inflammation. But there aren’t typically any side effects to trying it out, if you’re up for experimenting.

Heck, you can do whatever you want PERIOD. But if you’re trying to do good by your health, no. You shouldn’t drink endless amounts of coffee.

Even though it might have anti-inflammatory effects, coffee comes with down sides. Especially when you drink a ton of it.

Lots of peep take their coffee sweet with plenty of added sugar in the form of agave, coconut sugar, sweetened syrups, flavored creamers, or good old table sugar. Consuming too much added sugar isn’t good for overall health and may increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Caffeinated coffee can screw with your sleep, especially if you drink it in the afternoon or evening. And when you don’t get enough sleep, guess what you get? Inflammation!

Drinking too much coffee can cause anxiety, irregular heartbeat, and other negative side effects. It’s always best to keep caffeine intake to less than 400 milligrams (about 4 cups of coffee) per day.

These tidbits aren’t meant to scare you, just to show that coffee isn’t all good or all bad. It’s just another one of those things that can have benefits in moderate quantities and cause problems when you go overboard.

Though the studies aren’t conclusive, coffee seems to have anti-inflammatory properties that could protect your health. But it’s still important to sip in moderation, since too much can mess with your sleep, among other things.