For millions of people all across the country, a morning cup of Joe is a staple of a day started off right. It’s warm, welcoming, and just the boost you need. Some take theirs black and boiling, straight out of the pot. You may opt for a little sugar or lots of cream.
Either way, if you can’t stand the thought of giving up your daily coffee, here’s some good news for you: Higher coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of developing cognitive impairments related to Alzheimer’s. Here’s a look at some of the extensive research that's done on the topic, and why it’s true.
In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, a team of Australian researchers set out to explore the relationship between coffee and the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia in those who drink it. To test their hypothesis that habitual coffee intake decreases the overall risk, researchers gathered a group of 227 participants aged 60 and older who displayed no preexisting symptoms of cognitive decline and issued them a questionnaire on their coffee consumption habits.
Over the course of 10.5 years, the researchers administered follow-up examinations once every 18 months to assess the cognitive abilities of the participants. The results yielded by their long-term observations proved their theory correct. Participants who already drank coffee on a daily basis and had no preexisting indications of memory impairment maintained a far lower risk of developing cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s over the course of the following decade. Furthermore, there were no associations found between coffee intake and atrophy in gray or white matter within the brain.
The science behind this lies in something called amyloid accumulation. A type of plaque that deteriorates and destroys neurons in the brain, amyloid is considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, dementia and other similar forms of cognitive decline. Another contributor linked to memory impairment is a decrease of volume in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory formation. Habitual coffee intake slows the rate of amyloid accumulation and maintains hippocampal volume.
While the research into coffee drinking and decreased risk of cognitive decline is exciting, it's not all that your morning brew has to offer. Here are just a few of the additional health benefits you can get from drinking coffee.
Alzheimer’s isn’t the only neurodegenerative condition coffee has been found to lower your risk of. Daily coffee drinkers have also been found to have a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.
According to Andrea Dunn, a dietitian in the department of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Cleveland Clinic, caffeine isn’t the only beneficial substance you get from coffee. Coffee also contains about a thousand different unique botanical compounds and has actually been proven to be one of the single best sources of antioxidants in the average American diet. The ingredients in coffee have been directly linked to lower risks of memory impairment, Type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease and even some forms of cancer.
In addition to the positive effects coffee can have on your energy levels and cognitive health, it can be a fantastic help in burning fat. Take a close look at any commercial fat-burning supplement and you'll see that caffeine is a major ingredient in almost all of them, and for good reason. Caffeine is one of the few natural substances known to aid in fat burning by boosting your metabolic rate.
Additionally, coffee beans contain several essential nutrients that all make their way into your finished brew. A single 8-ounce cup of coffee contains potassium, magnesium, manganese and several different B vitamins, including riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5).
The bottom line: Your daily cup of coffee may be doing a lot more for you than just providing an early morning pick-me-up. Some doctors and medical professionals have touted the disadvantages of coffee and deemed other sources of caffeine, such as tea, to be safer and healthier. But with each passing year and every study conducted, coffee has shown more advantages that outweigh the disadvantages.
Before you up your coffee intake — or start up the habit — make sure to clear it with your doctor. Caffeine can interact with some medications and may be contraindicated for those with certain health conditions such as high blood pressure or a history of heart attack. If your doctor gives you the green light, consider moderating your daily coffee consumption to the recommended two cups. And if you find out that you can't have caffeine, you can still get many of the same benefits by brewing up some decaf.