Excerpt from Alzheimers.net
Although studies have historically shown the negative side effects of coffee, recent studies indicate that it can actually improve your health — from boosting brain power, to delaying Alzheimer’s disease and improving memory as you age.
Studies show that caffeine and coffee can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, even in seniors who already have some form of mild dementia. Research shows that caffeine blocks inflammation in the brain, specifically adenosine receptors, which can start a chain reaction that begins the mind’s cognitive decline.
Coffee can have such a positive effect on inflammation in the brain, that adults over the age of 65 who had higher levels of caffeine in their blood, were found to avoid or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Neuroscientist Chuanhai Cao, said of the study: “These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about three cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s.”
Similar to the beta-amyloid protein, the tau protein is very closely linked with Alzheimer’s. Build up of the protein is present in brain scans of people with the disease, and it is thought that the tangles of tau can kill brain cells and lead to cognitive decline.
Results from another recent study show that caffeine has a positive effect on the tau protein. Caffeine is an adenosine receptor antagonist, which means it blocks some receptors in the brain that contribute to the build of and entanglement of tau. Researchers hope their findings will lead to a new class of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
A study done at the University of California showed that adults who consumed 200 mg of caffeine before taking a memory test had significantly greater scores on the test.
Participants were asked to look at images and take the caffeine pill, then come back one day later to identify the images that they had seen, images they had not seen, and images that were similar, but not identical. Researchers found that caffeine enhances long term memory by improving the consolidation process so that recall becomes easier.
It is important to note that participants who received 300 mg of caffeine did not do significantly better on the test and reported negative side effects such as feeling jittery and having headaches.
Do you enjoy coffee but not like the side effects of caffeine? You can still enjoy coffee’s benefits. Studies have shown that even decaffeinated coffee can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Authors of the study wrote, “Compared with no coffee consumption… six cups a day of coffee was associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.” The study found that increasing your coffee intake by one cup per day led to a 9% reduction in risk while one cup per day of decaf coffee led to a 6% reduction in risk.
Approximately 70% of people who suffer from type 2 diabetes go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies even suggest that Alzheimer’s may be the late stages of type 2 diabetes or even a third type of diabetes.