During my pregnancies in the late 70s, it was determined by some researchers that if a woman drank anything with caffeine, her child would be born with 12 toes among other horrifying defects. This was the day of the earth mother. We were also told we were bad mothers if we had any anesthetic for childbirth and we'd better make my our baby's food from scratch, as the jarred stuff would kill my darling child.
So, I did what pregnant women do. I bent over backward (it was impossible to bend over frontward, anyway) to avoid anything that may harm my child. I gave up my morning coffee. I didn't even dare drink tea. Both of these substances have since been found to be loaded with antioxidants which are exceptionally good for us (and our chidren), and to the best of my knowledge, pregnant women are not jailed for having a cup of coffee.
Nevertheless, I am still defensive. So, while enjoying my second cup of coffee this morning, I half-wittedly searched the Web looking for a reason to go to the kitchen for a refill. And there it was. An article, published few months back by the Tampa Tribune, titled "Tampa Researchers Find Caffeine Eases Alzheimer's Effects."
The story reported that in research done at the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center & Research Institute has shown that mice genetically altered to acquire Alzheimer's disease and then given the human equivalent of five cups of coffee daily, were protected from memory impairment. They also found that those mice that were already impaired actually improved when given the caffeine - their memory was restored back to that of normal mice.
It was determined by further study that the caffeine wasn't masking symptoms. It was actually affecting the progression of the disease.
With that knowledge as a excuse, I found reason throughout the morning to drain the entire coffee pot.
Will caffeine turn out to be our savior from the devastation of Alzheimer's disease? Well, I have a hard time thinking that drinking coffee alone will do it, since several people I know who struggle with Alzheimer's have tossed back more than their fair share of coffee. This seems rather like the studies that show more education can help stave off Alzheimer's, yet most of us know highly educated people who have Alzheimer's disease. It's good research. It's good to know that there is something positive going on. But there are obviously pieces to the puzzle yet to be found.
Meanwhile, I will take advantage of the readily available coffee that I look forward to each morning. Now I can enjoy it without guilt. I'm not pregnant, nor am I apt to ever be again, so I don't have to worry about the fetus threat of the month. I only have to worry about my aging brain. With coffee packing not only antioxidants, but a hefty dose of caffeine, I can drink up without a shred of guilt. My only worry is being near a bathroom.
Published On: June 17, 2008