Discover more from Stephen's People
Age billboards, coffee cure, and cheap flights.
(no. 15) Let's all drink coffee together this week. By Stephen P. Williams
(Make algorithm love by clicking on the heart, above)
But first, this: I believe the term anti-aging is itself ageist. Why would we speak this way about a condition which none of us can actually avoid? I wonder how many times I’ve used the term this week.
I’m ready for another. Photo by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash
My winter coffee maker is a 40-year old Olympia Cremina hand pump espresso machine. (In the summer I make cold brew from New Orleans Cafe Du Monde coffee with chicory.) It’s made of steel and chrome and old-fashioned plastic and does not recognize coffee pods. Much like a car from the 60s, it is a tricky device that on good days seems to operate as much on love and luck as on barista skill. Two years ago I took it to a repair shop in the Bronx’s Little Italy and had it completely refurbished at the cost of two hundred machiatios.* This season the machine has worked beautifully, and I flick it on to heat up the moment I wake, usually pre-dawn. But yesterday a seal slipped, no more pressure. This is a serious disruption, as coffee is what keeps me alive and feeling youthful, as far as I can tell.
It will keep you young too, according to an analysis of a multiyear study of 100 people by Stanford University researchers. They found that coffee reduces a type of pervasive, fundamental inflammation that stresses our bodies, making us look and feel older. Tons of studies show that chronic inflammation is a factor in Alzheimer’s disease, various cancers, heart disease, arthritis and mental illness.
“More than 90 percent of all noncommunicable diseases of aging are associated with chronic inflammation,” said David Furman, PhD, who worked on the study, published in 2017, as a consulting associate professor at the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection.
Inflammation is one of those terms, like “cleansing,” that these days gets tossed around without much thought. But it has a specific meaning: It happens when the body releases white blood cells to fight off foreign substances, such as viruses or bacteria. It’s also a response to the wear and tear of aging itself. Autoimmune diseases happen when there are no foreign invaders, as with arthritis, and the white blood cells begin acting as though there are, making the body damage itself. A deterioration of metabolites, the molecules that help construct our genes, can also trigger inflammation. The consensus is that common foods like refined sugar and carbohydrates, alcohol and processed meats contribute to inflammation.
Generally, the symptoms of all types of inflammation include achiness, swelling, stiffness, headaches and fevers. The swelling can be in your joints, or in crucial age billboards such as your face and neck. A lot of these symptoms are due to increased blood flow to the inflamed tissues.
Coffee light, please. Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash
Let’s pause to sip an espresso and consider how much we’d like to reduce inflammation in our bodies. Given how sublime coffee can be, we are fortunate that caffeine and other substances in coffee might bring their own metabolites that counteract the rogue metabolites breaking down in our blood. It’s likely that this is why people who drink coffee live longer than those who don’t -- yes, that’s a proven fact. If I’m aware of any similar claims for herbal tea, I’ve ignored them.
“That something many people drink — and actually like to drink — might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us,” said Davis. “What we’ve shown is a correlation between caffeine consumption and longevity. And we’ve shown more rigorously, in laboratory tests, a very plausible mechanism for why this might be so.”
Good news for me, since coffee is one of the primary pleasures of my life. Soon I will return to The Bronx to get my espresso machine reconfigured. I would like to submit the bill to my insurance company, because the Stanford researchers found that inflammation is a main cause of heart disease and higher risk of death from all medical causes. It’s important that we all drink up.
*Why do I love this machine? From their website: “This tried and tested extraction procedure, coupled with the continually increasing experience of the individual Cremina owner, guarantees a perfect espresso, a composition of crema, smell and taste — a harmonious pleasure for the senses. Even your ears will be delighted: the only noise produced by your Cremina is the singing, when the boiler heats the water.”
The study regarding caffeine and aging.
Coffee drinkers live longer.
An espresso machine with a distinct personality
How to make an obsessive espresso shot with a vintage Olympia machine like mine.
More news for coffee aficionados, and others
The richest, smoothest cold brew
Here’s a recipe for amazing New Orleans cold brew. I use the very reasonably priced Cafe du Monde coffee with chicory, and a whole vanilla bean, rather than the extract suggested in this recipe, because I am a snob.
Fly for Sex
According to this article, travel keeps you looking younger and having more sex. Yes to both! I’ve found a great way to be notified of where to buy low-priced international tickets — NY to Rome and back for $300, anyone? Check out Scott’s Cheap Flights, for $40 annually.
Your recall might not be as progressively worse as you think. Rather, it’s that you just don’t remember how little you used to remember.