Along with superfoods, coffee has become a beacon of health trendiness; the essential morning beverage has been linked to improving ailments like heart disease, longevity, depression, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s. The data is so strong, top nutrition panels are even suggesting to drink a bit more of the bitter brew.
Now comes a sobering report.
In a study evaluating 1,445 people, researchers discovered drinking one to two cups a day is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – a precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is in line with a 2010 report that showed caffeine’s neuroprotective effects.
The difference between coffee consumption vs. none was surprising. Those who went from one cup to more than one cup had two times the rate of MCI as those who reduced their drinking to less than one cup.
The results suggest that “cognitively normal older individuals who never or rarely consumed coffee and those who increased their coffee consumption habits had a higher risk of developing MCI,” co-authors Vincenzo Solfrizzi and Francesco Panza, researchers at the University of Bari Aldo Moro, wrote. The study was conducted in the age range of 65 to 84 years old.
As to why the coffee affects the brain, the Italian researchers had a few theories.
One hypothesis they have is that coffee may work by reducing inflammation in the brain. Another is it could be activating adenosine A2A receptors which play a role in oxygen consumption and blood flow. Their final theory is based on the simple fact that caffeine is a powerful psychoactive stimulate.
“Caffeine could in part compensate the cognitive decline in older individuals because its effects on vigilance and attention, mainly in situations of reduced alertness,” they said.