Drinking This Much Coffee Daily Lowers Your Risk of Alzheimer's, Study Says


Daily coffee rituals are almost as varied as they are common. Some take theirs straight from the pot as soon as they wake up. Others opt for plenty of sugar and cream with their late afternoon cup of joe. And while you already appreciate the immediate boost you can get from your daily cup of coffee, new research suggests that it might also be benefiting your long-term brain health by lowering your risk of Alzheimer's disease. Read on to see how many cups can make a difference in fighting off dementia.

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A recent study found that coffee consumption could decrease your risk of Alzheimer's disease.

In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience on Nov. 19, a team of researchers set out to explore the relationship between coffee and the risk of Alzheimer's disease in those who drink it. To test their theory that it deceases risk, researchers gathered a group of 227 participants aged 60 and older who had not been diagnosed with cognitive decline and issued them a questionnaire on their coffee consumption habits.

Follow-up examinations were then administered every 18 months to assess cognitive abilities for 10 years before the results yielded an interesting observation. "We found participants with no memory impairments and with higher coffee consumption at the start of the study had lower risk of transitioning to mild cognitive impairment—which often precedes Alzheimer's disease—or developing Alzheimer's disease over the course of the study," Samantha Gardener, PhD, the study's lead author and a post-doctoral research fellow at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, said in a statement.

Results found that only two cups of coffee a day could affect dementia risk.

Results of the follow-up exams showed that participants who drank more coffee saw positive effects on brain health, specifically in planning, self-control, and attention. Researchers also noted that higher coffee consumption also appeared to slow down the buildup of amyloid protein in the brain, which is closely associated with the onset of Alzheimer's disease. And perhaps most importantly, data showed that even a modest increase in consumption could yield these significant benefits.

"If the average cup of coffee made at home is 240g [or roughly one eight-ounce cup], increasing to two cups a day could potentially lower cognitive decline by eight percent after 18 months," Gardener said. "It could also see a five percent decrease in amyloid accumulation in the brain over the same time period."

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Researchers concluded that coffee could someday be used to mitigate the risk of Alzheimer's in some patients.

As one of the most popular beverages consumed daily around the world, the researchers said their findings supported the idea of coffee as a lifestyle decision that could help certain patients."It's a simple thing that people can change," Gardener said. "It could be particularly useful for people who are at risk of cognitive decline but haven't developed any symptoms. We might be able to develop some clear guidelines people can follow in middle age and hopefully it could then have a lasting effect."

The authors pointed out that the study didn't differentiate between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, nor did it assess the brewing method or any additives such as milk or sugar. But they concluded the results warranted further research to establish how beneficial coffee could be. "We need to evaluate whether coffee intake could one day be recommended as a lifestyle factor aimed at delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease," Gardener said.

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Other studies have found a connection between drinking dark roast coffee and reduced dementia risk.

Other research has found a connection between drinking your daily brew and brain health benefits. One 2018 study from the Krembil Brain Institute, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, set out to investigate the theorized connection between coffee consumption and a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's. The researchers decided to test the compounds found in different beans, including light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated coffee.

The team discovered that the beans contained phenylindanes, a chemical compound that prevents the buildup and clumping of proteins known as beta-amyloid and tau, which are known to lead to Alzheimer's. Since a longer roast leads to an increase in the amount of phenylindanes, the researchers concluded that dark roast coffee provided better protection against the neurological condition. The team also discovered that levels of phenylindanes—which give coffee its bitter flavor—were as strong in dark roasted decaffeinated coffee as they were in a regular caffeinated dark roast.

"It's the first time anybody's investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's," Ross Mancini, PhD, a research fellow in medicinal chemistry, said in a statement. "The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream or cross the blood-brain barrier."

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