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What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause for dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is more common than you might think. 

Approximately one in 20 adults over the age of 65 suffer from this disease. Almost 44 million adults globally are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. 

In this disease, the people affected by it go through a continuous, long-term cognitive impairment and are noticed to have an accumulation of an amino acid; beta-amyloid peptide (Aβ) in their brain. 

The most widely recognised and familiar symptom of this disease is memory loss. However, this is just one of many symptoms, some of which are; hallucinations, anxiety, delusions, depression, and irritability all of which lead to a gradual cognitive decline.

How does coffee help reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s?

A recent 2018 study done at the Krembil Brain Institute, took in the task of investigating the correlation between caffeine consumption and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Donald Weaver and his team looked at three types of coffees; dark roast, light roast, and decaffeinated dark roast.

The Krembil Research Institute team pinpointed a group of compounds known as phenylindanes, that are present in coffee as a direct result of the roasting process. Interestingly, phenylindanes are the only compound found by the research team at Krembil, that prevents and stops the accumulation of Aβ, i.e., the amino acid that clumps in the brain when a person suffers from Alzheimer’s leading to the patient suffering a cognitive decline.

The darker the roast is the more of these protective compounds are present in them. Dr. Weaver, one of the researchers on this study, however, has said that more research is needed to look into how these findings can be translated into a potential treatment or therapeutic option to combat the risk of dementia and to regain cognitive function for people affected by and living with this condition.

Interestingly, this is not the first time the association between coffee and Alzheimer’s has been looked at. In a previous study in 2009, a team of researchers from Sweden and Denmark had been studying and monitoring a group of more than 1400 participants for over 20 years.

They found during their course of research that people whose caffeine intake was around three to five cups of coffee were 65% less likely of developing a form of dementia than people who consumed fewer than three cups a day.

Another observational study in 2010 produced interesting findings. They tested the caffeine correlation with Alzheimer’s disease in mice. Here, mice with Alzheimer’s were given caffeine treatment (they were given caffeine in their drinking water) for their disease. After one to two months of treatment and tests, the mice with Alzheimer’s exhibited memory restoration signs and also showed lower levels of the Aβ compound, indicative of them gaining back their cognitive function.

When the mice were given an acute caffeine treatment (where they were orally administered with caffeine), the brain and plasma levels of the Aβ compound were noticed to decrease rapidly. Similar results were also found in humans when they were administered with an acute caffeine treatment.

This study concluded by acknowledging the surprising ability of moderate coffee consumption (around 500 mg of caffeine or 5 cups a day) to protect mice and human beings from this disease. It also noted that caffeine treatment might be an effective therapeutic option in regards to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

In Conclusion

All the research done thus far does have a notable impact on the caffeine world. Who would have thought that apart from giving you that morning energy, your caffeine intake could unknowingly be preventing Alzheimer’s disease?

The current evidence is promising, but the need for more research is definitely there. There is still a long way to go before such research is actually translated into effective therapeutic treatments. All we can say for sure is that there may be one more reason for you to enjoy your cup of coffee, guilt-free.