Drinking four cups of your favourite hot beverage a day could stave off type 2 diabetes.
US researchers have discovered that a compound found in coffee improves cell function and insulin sensitivity in mice.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
Insulin is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood.
If the body has problems producing or reacting to insulin then the blood sugar levels become too high.
Previous studies have suggested drinking three or four cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of developing the disease, but until now scientists did not know why.
Initially scientists thought the caffeine in coffee was responsible for controlling insulin levels, but lab tests revealed a compound called cafestol was the key.
Cafestol increased insulin production in the pancreas when they were exposed to glucose (sugar).
It also increased the rate at which muscle cells were absorbing glucose as effectively as anti-diabetic drugs.
Researchers from the American Chemical Society set out to see if the compound would help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
In tests on mice given two different doses of cafestol both sets had lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin production after 10 days.
Cafestol also didn’t cause blood sugar levels to become too low, known as hypoglycemia, which is a possible side effect of some diabetes medication.
The researchers hope the compound could one day be used in a drug to prevent diabetes in people.