By David Blyweiss, M.D.
Do you need your morning cup of coffee before facing the day? Well, it turns out that your a.m. habit might not be such a bad thing.
Despite coffee’s reputation for giving you the jitters and raising your heart rate, it seems this morning staple has a lot going for it. A few cups a day lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, not to mention gallstones, colon cancer, liver damage and even Parkinson’s disease.
And now researchers are discovering that your daily java fix may also keep Alzheimer’s at bay by boosting your brain function.
According to a study I recently read in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, coffee just might protect against the cognitive decline seen in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.1 Here’s what they found:
- The caffeine in coffee enhances your ability to think clearly, make decisions and complete complex tasks.
- Coffee boosts your memory.
- Drinking moderate amounts of coffee reduces the mental decline many people experience as they age.
- Caffeinated coffee lowers the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.2
- The caffeine in coffee also normalized how well your brain functions and prevents the deterioration of brain cells.
- Caffeine improves your sense of well-being, happiness, energy, and alertness.
One of the reasons coffee is so good for your brain is because of the whopping amount of antioxidants that are contained in each cup. On average, Americans get 1,299 mg of antioxidants from coffee while tea drinkers only get 294 mg.
The antioxidants in coffee are so powerful that drinking the brew regularly can cut the risk of certain types of brain cancer by up to 34 percent.
Researchers suspect that these antioxidant compounds stimulate a protein that can repair cancer-causing damage to brain-cell DNA.3
But it’s not just the antioxidants in coffee that provide protection to brain cells.
It’s also the caffeine.
Yes, I know. Caffeine is supposed to be bad for you. But, in moderation, caffeine just might help thwart the development of brain cancer. In fact, lab experiments show caffeine delays the growth of some tumor cells.
Of course, that’s no reason to start mainlining your morning coffee. To get all of these benefits without the risks, stick to just a couple of cups of coffee each day.
And if you rely on coffee, not only to get you going in the morning, but keep you going throughout the day, try this trick: spread your coffee consumption over the course of the day. For instance, if you usually drink 2 or 3 cups in the morning, try consuming a 2 to 3 ounce serving every hour or so. It just might help keep you on top of your game, both today and for years to come.
- de Mendonça A. Therapeutic opportunities for caffeine in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S1-2.
- Arendash GW. Caffeine and coffee as therapeutics against Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S117-26.
- Holick CN. Coffee, tea, caffeine intake, and risk of adult glioma in three prospective cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2010;19:39-47