Choose your vices

We had some friends over this weekend — husband and wife, they’ll probably read this — and the husband: man, he’s lost weight. He looks fantastic.

It turns out he’s on a very specific diet, with a coach and all kinds of good stuff, where they send you some of your meals and you supplement with one or two things a day that you make yourself.

You also drink a massive amount of water, and you cut out all alcohol and starches —

Wait, I asked. Do you have to give up coffee?

Because I’ll be honest, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for me to drop a few pounds. Maybe more than a few. And there’s no better recommendation than seeing a friend who’s made it work.

But while I could give up almost everything I eat and drink in pursuit of a worthy goal without it feeling like an impossible sacrifice, the idea of cutting out coffee seems a bit too much.

Good news: It turns out coffee is not verboten. And while I’m not going to name the weight loss plan here — I haven’t decided yet for sure if it’s right for me — I was glad to hear that.

Because as I assured my friend, coffee isn’t just-not-bad-for-you. It’s in fact a miracle food. I suppose we’ve known this since the 1800s if not long before.

Anyway, I tried to recite off the top of my head an article I wrote three years ago about the insane health benefits of coffee, and I’m pretty sure I misquoted the whole thing in the moment.

But it’s worth revisiting, especially if you’re like me — deciding that you’ve reached the point of the pandemic when maybe it might not be a bad idea to cut back on a vice or two.

So, here’s the story. It’s from the United Kingdom, where scientists studied the coffee habits and longevity of nearly 500,000 adults over 10 years.

There were a lot of heavy coffee drinkers in the mix. About a third drank between two and three cups of coffee each day, and 10,000 people reported that they drank eight or more cups each day.

Anyway, they found that no matter who they were, and no matter what else people did, people who drank a ton of coffee were “about 10 percent to 15 percent less likely to die” of any cause—anything at all—than people who didn’t drink coffee, according to an Associated Press summary.

In fact, the coffee drinkers were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol than the non-coffee-drinkers, but they still had better outcomes. The theory is that it has to do with the more than 1,000 chemical compounds that you’ll find in a cup of coffee, including antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage.

The study, officially entitled, "Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism," was published in 2017 in JAMA Internal Medicine. So that seems pretty legit.

So, I’ll keep drinking it as if it were the nectar of the gods.

As for the weight loss idea: well, I’ll let you know if there’s more to know. For now, one vice at a time.

7 other things worth your time

  • The Republican convention starts today. President Trump plans a speaking role every single night. (NY Post)

  • Kellyanne Conway, a top advisor to President Trump, will leave the White House at the end of the month, and her husband, a fierce Trump critic, says he’ll step down from a group of Republicans working hard to defeat the president in November. They say it’s for family reasons; recently the Conways’ high school daughter’s tweets about her parents and politics had received a lot of attention. (The Washington Post)

  • The Air Force set up an AI-enabled simulated fighter jet, and put it in repeated dogfights with one of the military’s best pilots, and the AI won over and over and over. (Business Insider)

  • Found money part 1: A Massachusetts doctor opened his Bank of America app to realize there was a bit more money reflected in his account than he’d expected: $2.45 billion. BofA says it was a display error. (Bloomberg)

  • Found money part 2: A small diamond miner in Lesotho thinks it’s found a 442-carat diamond, which could be worth $18 million. (Bloomberg)

  • Not found money: Apple ordered WordPress to offer a premium version so that Apple could take a 30 percent cut, but then backed off and offered an apology. (The Verge)

  • How 10 isolated countries managed to have zero Covid-19 cases — and at a big cost. (BBC)

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