Coffee Is Good For Your Brain
Drinking coffee may be more than just an enjoyable way to being your day, it might help promote mental health later in life, as well. In fact, a study out of Europe suggests that drinking upwards of three to five cups (or more) a day could possibly reduce the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
It has been postulated that the root causes of dementia and AD might begin decades before that actual symptoms appear. Coupled with the lack of knowledge about caffeine’s long term effects on the central nervous system, the researchers studied their relationship by focusing on coffee drinkers in mid-life and following up with them later in life (21 years, on average), when symptoms of dementia more commonly appear.
What they found was that subjects in the moderate consumption group (3-5 cups/day) experienced a decreased level of dementia than those in the low consumption group (0-2 cups/day). Even after adjustments were made for socioeconomic circumstances and health considerations (hypertension, high cholesterol), the moderate consumption group had a 65% lower risk, while those in the high consumption group (more than 5 cups/day) displayed a similar reduction in risk, though the results were not statistically significant.
While the doctors who headed the study are not yet advocating coffee as a miracle drug, the results are nonetheless interesting, especially in light of coffees popularity - it has been estimated that 80% of the people in this country and up to half of the world’s population drink coffee every day.
Which is interesting when you consider that coffee has often carried with it certain negative connotations in regards to our health, not the least of which is addiction. That, however, is slowly beginning to change as coffee’s list of potential health benefits continues to grow, including cancer prevention, alleviating chronic disease, and now, reducing dementia.
Dementia is defined as the loss of mental functions, including reasoning and memory, and is generally more a symptom of a disease or condition rather than the actual cause. In extreme cases it can severely disrupt a person’s daily life to the point that they could lose their independence. In most cases, dementia cannot be cured, though if the root cause can be addressed (including substance abuse, diet, and sleep deprivation), then there is a greater chance of reducing or eliminating the dementia itself.
Why coffee might help to lessen the severity of dementia is not yet known, but previous data seems to supports its potential preventative capabilities. It has been suggested that coffee might reduce one’s susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, which can increase one’s risk for dementia. In animal models, caffeine was shown to reduce the formation of amyloid plaques that are associated with AD. Coffee also increases blood flow to the brain, and there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that it can lessen the severity of headaches.
So the next time you’re taking part your morning routine, take heart in the fact that that cup of coffee you’re enjoying may impart mental health benefits. You never know, one day it might even help you remember where you left your keys.