Over thirty years ago, when I was pregnant with my first son, there were dire warnings for pregnant women to avoid caffeine. Coffee was particularly a "no no." I was told my children could be born with multiple sets of fingers if I indulged in caffeinated beverages, particularly coffee.
Well, being a good earth mother, I wasn't going to chance that, so I dutifully drank decaf. Yikes! A few years later, caffeine and coffee were vindicated and the process used to decaf coffee was suspect. What's a good mother-to-be to do?
Since that time, coffee has been shown to be our friend. Caffeine aside, the coffee bean is known to contain copious amounts of antioxidants, making the beverage nearly as good as many fruits (better than some) for one's health.
Yes, there are some people who are very sensitive to caffeine. There are many other sources of antioxidants and these people are not going to become unhealthy from their lack of coffee. For that matter, tea, which I grew up drinking has proven to have wonderful health properties, among them antioxidants.
However an article published on the Web site of the University of Southern Florida titled "Coffee Reverses Alzheimer's Signs in Mice" will give a lift to java lovers. The article discusses two studies published online in the Journal of Alzheimer‘s Disease that "show caffeine significantly decreased abnormal levels of the protein linked to Alzheimer's disease..."
The fascinating thing about these studies is the implication that caffeine may actually treat Alzheimer's disease, not just prevent it. The researchers said that caffeine enters the brain easily and "appears to directly affect the disease process."
These studies, as most studies we write about, used mice as research instruments. I would think that caffeine, being freely consumed by many people, should prove to be fairly easily studied without the common worries of introducing untested substances into human bodies. There are groups of people who choose not to use caffeine, whether because they are extremely sensitive to the effects of the drug, they just don't like it or believe it harmful. That being the case, one would think studies could move ahead quite easily. Therefore, we already have groups of people for controlled studies.
This isn't the first time we've written about the health benefits of coffee. But these studies are the two most startling examples I've read about the health benefits directly related to Alzheimer's disease. This isn't only about one more thing we can do that could keep our brain's healthh (though it is). These studies show improvement in mice who already have symptoms of the disease.
So, here we have a readily available substance that could prevent or reverse Alzheimer's in a beverage consumed daily by millions of people. Now that is what I call encouraging news.
Published On: July 08, 2009