Once again, a study shows coffee may reduce risk for Alzheimer’s disease
Coffee is really, really good for our brains and may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. So says a recent article on eurkalert.org.
Long-time readers on ouralzheimers.com may think that I spend many wakeful nights cruising the Internet for articles that justify my love for my morning cup(s) of java. That’s not really true. Well, at least not totally, really true. But I do like it when I find an article with positive findings.
Awhile back I wrote Drink up! That Morning Cup of Coffee May Protect Your Brain, which told of studies done on rats, but today I can report even better news.
A current study published in the June 28, 2011 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease reports that a somewhat mysterious combination of ingredients naturally found in coffee interact with one another in a way that appears to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease. This interaction only takes place in caffeinated coffee, so decaf doesn’t qualify for “medicinal purposes.”
The eurekalert.org article also states that, “Although the present study was performed in Alzheimer's mice, the researchers indicated that they've gathered clinical evidence of caffeine/coffee's ability to protect humans against Alzheimer's and will soon publish those findings.”
Researchers at the University of South Florida say in the interview that, “Coffee is safe for most Americans to consume in the moderate amounts (4 to 5 cups a day) that appear necessary to protect against Alzheimer's disease. The USF researchers previously reported this level of coffee/caffeine intake was needed to counteract the brain pathology and memory impairment in Alzheimer's mice. The average American drinks 1½ to 2 cups of coffee a day, considerably less than the amount the researchers believe protects against Alzheimer's.”
I would caution people to check with their physicians before ingesting this much of any caffeinated product, as some people are sensitive to caffeine, and others may take medications that warn people to stay away from caffeine. However, for most healthy people, coffee is probably a safe beverage, at least in moderation.
USF neuroscientist Dr. Chuanhai Cao, lead author of the study, said, “Caffeinated coffee provides a natural increase in blood GCSF levels. The exact way that this occurs is not understood. There is a synergistic interaction between caffeine and some mystery component of coffee that provides this beneficial increase in blood GCSF levels."
GCSF is granulocyte colony stimulating factor, which is a substance greatly decreased in patients with Alzheimer's disease, and demonstrated to improve memory in Alzheimer's afflicted mice.
Obviously, we’re not off the “Alzheimer’s hook” if we just drink coffee. These researchers also emphasize the importance of diet and exercise to ward off Alzheimer’s. They feel the addition of coffee is another piece of the puzzle, and hope that coffee producers will start to help fund research about the protective effects of coffee.
Eating a diet rich in deeply colored fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish and whole grains, plus maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of exercise will benefit us all. It’s hard to keep up with all of the advice we read about staying healthy in general, and keeping Alzheimer’s at bay in particular, but we need to try our best.
Knowing that one food product that gives my morning a good start is actually a small way of taking better care of myself feels great. We’ll watch for more news on coffee, as well as other steps we can take for better health.