The benefits of coffee.

It went from a simple plant, growing wild in central Ethiopia 600 AD, to the beverage choice of kings and noblemen. Is coffee today’s miracle elixir?

In my health segment today on "FOX and Friends," I talked about the benefits of coffee. Some of the data comes from Harvard researchers who analyzed results from 126,000 coffee drinkers over an 18-year period. In the study, researchers found a significant reduction in Type II diabetes when compared to non-coffee drinkers. Even though the average coffee drinker in the study consumed an average of two to three cups of caffeinated coffee daily, the more coffee the subjects drank (over six cups), the more significant the reduction in diabetes was found — for men and women.

These findings are nothing new. The positive attributes of coffee run the gamut from reducing colon cancer by as much as 25 percent, reducing liver cirrhosis by as much as 80 percent, to helping alleviate asthma symptoms, knocking out headaches and, get this, preventing cavities.

One observation is that many of these studies were not controlled, randomized trials. The other observation is that some studies were sponsored by groups who support coffee manufacturers. But still, there is very little evidence that coffee could be bad for you.

There are significant side effects that many coffee drinkers should be aware of. It is a stimulant, so it does have some addictive properties. Many people with heart conditions should not be drinking coffee because of its effects on the cardiovascular system. Pregnant women or women with osteoporosis should avoid coffee altogether.

Many parents ask if it’s OK for children to drink coffee. Well, that is a very complex question. In some countries like Brazil, the morning breakfast for many children starts with the famous "cafe con leche." This combination is more milk than coffee (usually three parts milk, one part coffee). Even though there are no significant studies on the effect of caffeine in children, more and more we see the significant side effects of caffeinated drinks in our young adults. Coffee in children can interfere with sleep habits, contribute to dehydration and make them hyperactive. So my recommendation is to avoid caffeine in your children and develop better habits, like drinking water or natural juice.

And finally, support your local coffee shop (or diner). I refuse to learn Italian so that I can order a regular cup of coffee. What the heck is a venti skim latte anyway?

Here are a couple of questions from you after the segment aired:

"Sir, maybe you can clear up this adventure. I'm preparing for my sixth kidney surgery for calcium oxalate stones. This morning you mentioned that caffeine is good for most people. This is something I've heard many times before. But, it seems coffee is listed in the mid-range on the Oxalate list and therefore becomes a no-no for people with Oxalate stones. Is there a caffeine substitute or should I just cough it up to a time gone past? Thank you. For the record, all I watch is "FOX and Friends" in the morning, of course!"

MANNY’S ANSWER: I think you should forget coffee or tea for a while and stick to water. I’ll keep looking for an alternative for you.

"Are there only benefits for caffeinated coffee or are they the same for decaffeinated coffee?"

MANNY’S ANSWER: Several studies suggest that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee provide good amounts of antioxidants. So it appears the benefits might be similar.

"I was disappointed in your coffee segment. You failed to mention that coffee beans are being sprayed with a dangerous chemical to cause them to all ripen at the same time. There have been a number of studies done in England that have shown that drinking coffee sprayed with this chemical increases your chance of getting cancer by a significant amount. The U.S. is the only country in the world that will accept coffee beans sprayed with this chemical. If you want to push coffee drinking, please warn people to drink only organically grown coffee." — Kristine (Garfield, AR)

MANNY’S ANSWER: I love organic. Thanks for the info!

P.S. Don't forget to watch FOX News Channel. And please feel free to write to me at DRMANNY@FOXNEWS.COM and tell me what you think. Ask a question, share a thought, share a remedy — We'll try to answer all of your mail online or on the air.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.