Can drinking coffee actually reduce dementia risk?

A new study from The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee says that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“Research suggests that a higher intake of coffee and caffeine, up to 5 cups of coffee per day, could act as [a] preventative on [the] risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s disease,” Elisabet Rothenberg, the lead author of the study and associate professor at Kristianstad University in Sweden, told The Mirror.

It’s important to note that, according to its website, members of the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (a not-for-profit organization), include six major European coffee makers.

That said, this isn’t the first study to look at coffee and neurodegenerative diseases. “There have been some scientific studies that have found a relationship between coffee consumption and a delay in the onset of Alzheimer's,” Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “However, more research is needed.”

A 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience found a similar association between coffee consumption and a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkison’s.

In that study, researchers looked into the potential “neuroprotective effects” of certain ingredients in coffee. One ingredient in particular, phenylindanes — formed when coffee beans are roasted (and found in higher amounts in dark roasts), according to study authors — inhibits both beta amyloid and tau, two protein fragments common in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which researchers called “noteworthy.” In the study, they wrote that phenylindanes are a “promising lead for the development of drug-like molecules to treat neurodegenerative disorders.”

While some study results are promising, Diane Vizthum, registered dietitian and research nutritionist for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that some of the health benefits associated with coffee are just that — associations, with the Alzheimer’s Society casting a skeptical eye, stating that, in some cases, “the results cannot distinguish between cause and effect.”

Coffee may help with other diseases

However, the popular beverage may have other health benefits beyond potentially protecting against neurodegenerative diseases. “Other studies that have looked at the consumption of coffee/caffeine have revealed a possible reduced risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes,” says Gans.

There’s some evidence that drinking coffee may help improve blood sugar.

A 2015 study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products found that two ingredients in coffee, cafestol and caffeic acid, “increased insulin secretion when glucose was added.” The researchers also found that cafestol in particular “increased glucose uptake in muscle cells, matching the levels of a currently prescribed antidiabetic drug.”

Other research, including a 2019 study in the aptly-named journal, The Prostate, has shown that substances in coffee (in particular, cafestol and kahweol acetate) inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.

Drinking coffee has also been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer, according to 2016 study of more than 5,000 men. "The more coffee consumed, the lower the risk," Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, told ScienceDaily. The researchers found that consuming moderate amounts of coffee (1 to 2 servings daily) was associated with a 26 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer, while drinking more than 2.5 servings daily was associated with up to a 50 percent reduction in risk — and it didn’t matter whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated.

12 PHOTOS
12 ways coffee makes you a better person
See Gallery
12 ways coffee makes you a better person
Coffee can help you see the positives. 

Let's give it up for coffee's ability to help you identify the positive things! A small study found that, when tasked with identifying positive and negative words, study participants who took the equivalent of two to three cups of caffeine identified positive words and images faster than negative ones. Think of coffee as a silver bullet for optimism.

Coffee gives you an energy jolt in as little as 10 minutes.

Hello, instant energy. Studies show that caffeine from coffee hits the bloodstream in mere minutes, though it will take a bit longer to feel its full effect. You'll feel unstoppable (i.e. your most alert) roughly 30 to 45 minutes after downing your java, research suggests. Patience is a virtue, okay? 

Coffee helps you poop.

Coffee wakes up your mind and your bowels. Three out of every 10 people find that coffee has a laxative effect, and researchers have found that coffee gets the digestive system going by stimulating the "distal colon," the Washington Post noted. Decaf can still do the trick, too.

Coffee makes you more alert when driving.

If you've got a long, monotonous drive ahead of you, you may want to down that caffeinated slurry at the highway rest stop. One study with 24 participants found that just one cup of coffee helped sleep-deprived drivers have better control of their vehicles and weave less frequently.

The smell of coffee can relax you.
Start feeling revived the moment you smell coffee brewing? It's not just in your head. One study on rats found that a whiff of hot coffee changed the proteins and genes in the animals' brains. Stressed rats exhibited more relaxed brains after smelling coffee compared to a control group of stressed rats that did not smell coffee.
Coffee helps you focus — even when you're sleep deprived.

You probably don't need us to tell you that the caffeinated drink wakes up your brain. But science confirms it does — by a long shot. One study found that 200 mg of caffeine (equivalent to about two cups of coffee that have 95 mg of caffeine each) helped sleep-deprived U.S. Navy SEALs have better memory and brain functioning.

Coffee makes you smarter.

Coffee won't magically give you extra IQ points. But the stimulant can make help your brain be more efficient with its resources it, CNN reported.

"When you're sleep-deprived and you take caffeine pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning — most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence," Harris Lieberman, a research psychologist at the Military Nutrition Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, told CNN. "And most Americans are sleep-deprived most of the time." Guilty as charged...

Coffee can help you live longer.
We'll all die one day, but studies show a daily coffee habit is linked to a longer life. You can't achieve immortality with a macchiato but then again, can't hurt to try... if you're into not dying.
It cuts your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are serious diseases that change how your body processes glucose (blood sugar) and negatively impact life expectancy. Researchers found that drinking two cups of coffee a day was associated with a 12% decreased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Coffee might help prevent depression.

A jolt of energy makes most of us instantly happier, but coffee could have positive long term effects on our moods. One study found that women who drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day had 15% decreased risk for developing depression during the 10 years of the study. Women who drank decaf didn't exhibit the lower risk for developing depression.

Coffee protects your brain from aging.
To stave off conditions like Alzheimers and dementia, drinking some extra cups of joe might help. One study found that middle-aged people who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had a decreased risk of developing dementia later in life.
Coffee makes you a better athlete.
Trying to go HAM during your next gym sesh? Pre-game your workout with coffee and you'll perform better. Science says the caffeine in coffee can increase endurance. Now run, Forest, run [to the closest coffee shop].
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

There is such a thing as too much coffee

Although coffee, in general, is safe to drink, there is such a thing as too much. A 2019 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking six or more cups of coffee per day can raise the risk of heart disease by up to 22 percent. The researchers found that excessive coffee consumption can increase high blood pressure, which can lead to several health issues, including heart disease.

So what’s a good amount coffee drinkers should aim for? Vizthum tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the recommendation for the average healthy adult is about 3-5 cups a day (one 8-oz coffee has 80 to 100 mg of caffeine), or up to about 400 mg of caffeine daily (women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should cap caffeine at 200 mg). But Vizthum points out that, even within that range, it really depends on the individual. “Some people feel fine at that level, but others can feel jittery, anxious, and have a rapid heartbeat,” she says.

Vizthum also notes that “when you start adding cream and sugar, that can make it a less healthy beverage.” As Gans puts it, some people are “making their daily cup of joe more like a slice of cake.”

While consuming coffee may come with several health benefits, that doesn’t mean you should run out to your nearest Starbucks if you’re not currently a coffee drinker. “If you don’t like coffee, you don’t need to start drinking it,” says Gans.

Read Full Story