Study: Delay Alzheimer's by Drinking 3 Cups of Coffee a Day?

The Benefits of Caffeine for Your Brain
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Love coffee? Here's a compelling reason to keep drinking it.

The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published a study that demonstrated some significant results related to coffee and cognitive function- specifically your risk of developing dementia..

Researchers in Florida measured the amount of caffeine in participants by taking blood samples and testing the caffeine plasma levels. They also tested participants' cognitive functioning at the start of the study and categorized people as fitting into one of three categories:

  • Normal cognitive functioning- Overall, memory, judgment and decision-making were intact.

After a period of two to four years, researchers found that a higher level of caffeine plasma (greater than 1200 ng/ml) was correlated with the following results:

  • Stable cognitive functioning was maintained (there was no cognitive decline) in those who began the study with normal cognition.
  • A lack of progression to dementia occurred in the participants who began the study in the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) category. This is especially notable because there is usually a high rate of progression from MCI to dementia.

Additionally, a higher rate of progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia was seen in participants whose caffeine intake was lower.

The participants' caffeine levels were assumed to come directly from coffee since they reported no other significant intake of caffeine. A caffeine level of more than 1200 ng/ml is equated with 3 or more cups of coffee a day.

Is It Just the Caffeine?

Several studies have highlighted the benefits of caffeine, so is that the only reason why coffee may help the brain?

One study recently published doesn't think so.

In one study, researchers isolated a component in coffee called eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) and gave it to mice who were engineered to develop Alzheimer's disease. The mice, who initially displayed cognitive impairments as well as the buildup of tau protein in their brains that is characteristic of Alzheimer's, improved significantly in both the clearing of the tau and their cognitive ability after receiving the EHT.

While this research is preliminary in mice, it does present an interesting possibility for why coffee has been correlated with brain health.

Related Reading

Does Caffeine Actually Decrease Your Risk of Alzheimer's Disease?

Research Review: Caffeine Can Improve Your Memory

Sources:

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 29 (2012) 1-14. High Blood Caffeine Levels in MCI Linked to Lack of Progression to Dementia. http://iospress.metapress.com/content/pmu5k751j5rpx257/

The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 2014 Apr;18(4):383-92. Current evidence for the use of coffee and caffeine to prevent age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24676319

Neurobiology of Aging. June 17, 2014. Therapeutic benefits of a component of coffee in a rat model of Alzheimer's disease. http://www.neurobiologyofaging.org/article/S0197-4580%2814%2900431-X/abstract

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