According to research, the potential benefits of caffeine for maintenance of proper brain functioning has only recently begun to be appreciated. Proper brain functioning? Those of us who stumble blindly, mumbling unintelligibly, from bed to coffee pot first thing in the morning already appreciate the effect of caffeine on proper brain functioning–but the benefits now seem to be further-reaching than the need to simply shake off the morning cobwebs.
In a study published in a special supplement to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers explored the potential benefits of caffeine and found substantial evidence that it may be protective against the cognitive decline seen in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
For the study (“Therapeutic Opportunities for Caffeine in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases”) a group of international experts looked into the effects of caffeine on the brain. The result was a collection of original studies exploring a number of topics ranging from molecular targets of caffeine, neurophysiological modifications and adaptations, to the potential mechanisms underlying the behavioral and protective actions of caffeine in distinct brain pathologies. Here’s a brief summary of what they found:
1. Caffeine has a positive effect on cognition, memory performance, and the ability to complete complex tasks.
2. An inverse association between regular caffeine consumption and the incidence of Parkinson’s disease was found–in other words, caffeine looks to be protective against Parkinson’s disease.
3 . The consumption of moderate amounts of caffeine was seen to decrease the cognitive decline associated with aging, as well as the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Caffeine prevented motor deficits, normalized brain function, and prevented brain degeneration.
Other studies have shown:
5. Caffeine improves a sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability.
6. Caffeine enhances aerobic endurance.
7. Consumption of coffee can lead to a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
8. Coffee has a whopping amount of antioxidants–on average, Americans receive 1,299 milligrams of antioxidants from their 1.64 cups of daily coffee. The closest competitor was tea at 294 milligrams. Rounding out the top five sources were bananas, 76 milligrams; dry beans, 72 milligrams; and corn, 48 milligrams.
Next: Coffee cons? And how to make it green.