Coffee - Can it Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

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Coffee - Can it Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Campbell M
Published by Campbell M Gold in Health Alternative · Saturday 06 Jul 2024
Tags: CoffeeAlzheimer'sDiseasePreventionHealthCoffeeConsumptionReducedRiskEvidence
Can Coffee help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Can drinking coffee help protect against Alzheimer’s disease?

Certainly! There is evidence suggesting that coffee consumption might be associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease...

Key findings

1. Cognitive Decline: A long-term Australian study found that habitual coffee drinking was positively associated with cognitive areas such as executive function, attention, and overall cognitive performance. Increasing coffee intake from 1 to 2 cups per day could reduce cognitive decline by up to 8% after 18 months.

2. Amyloid Accumulation: Another study reported that daily coffee consumption was linked to slower cognitive decline, a lower likelihood of transitioning to mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease, and a slower accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain, a biological marker of Alzheimer's disease.

3. Parkinson’s Disease: Coffee consumption may also protect against developing Parkinson’s disease.

The Evidence

More than 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which researchers believe accounts for 50–75% of dementia cases.

With an ageing population, Alzheimer's disease cases are expected to increase exponentially.

Alzheimer's disease is a complex disease and not a normal part of ageing. It leads to intricate brain changes, resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline.

Australian Study

A new study in Australia has uncovered evidence to suggest that there is a link between the amount of coffee people drink and their rate of cognitive decline. The study recently appeared in the journal Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience.
The research team is located at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia. The scientists utilised data from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle (AIBL) longitudinal study and followed the participants for over a decade.

The study included 227 adults aged 60 years or older, who did not exhibit cognitive decline at the beginning of the study. The team utilised a questionnaire to gather information from the participants about the amount and frequency of coffee they consumed.

They then conducted cognitive assessments at baseline and 18-month intervals using a variety of psychological measures. These assessments covered six cognitive areas: episodic recall memory, recognition memory, executive function, language, attention and processing speed, and the AIBL Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC).
The PACC is a composite score combining memory, executive function, and cognition tests. Research has indicated that it can effectively measure the initial signs of cognitive decline.

A subset of 60 participants underwent PET brain scans to evaluate the accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain, and another subset of 51 participants had MRI scans to assess their brain volume atrophy.

The data analysis revealed that regular coffee consumption was associated with improved cognitive functions such as executive function, attention, and PACC score. Consuming more coffee was linked to slower mental decline in these areas over the study period.

Additionally, higher baseline coffee consumption was found to be connected to a slower accumulation of amyloid protein over 126 months.

However, the study did not find evidence of a relationship between coffee intake and brain volume atrophy.

The findings suggest that increasing coffee intake from 1 to 2 cups per day could reduce cognitive decline by up to 8% after 18 months. It could also decrease cerebral beta-amyloid accumulation by up to 5% over the same period.
Dr Gardener explained to MNT, "Higher coffee intake was linked to a slower accumulation of the sticky protein called beta-amyloid, which forms clumps in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer's disease."

Dr Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, told MNT, "Studies like this one can provide useful clues about the effects of diet on our brain health, but we must be careful when interpreting the results, as we know many other factors are at play when it comes to dementia risk."

Imarisio added: "Future research into long-term outcomes is needed to further understand the benefits of regular coffee consumption. In the meantime, the best way to keep your brain healthy as you age is to stay physically and mentally active, eat a healthy balanced diet, not smoke, drink only within the recommended limits, and keep weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure in check."

Italian Study

A study by the University of Verona in Italy showed that a dark shot of coffee destroys rogue tau proteins that gather in the brain and kill neurons, a process believed to be involved in the onset of neurodegenerative disease. The study appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The study’s lead author, Professor Mariapina D’Onofrio, said, “Recent research has suggested that coffee could also have beneficial effects against certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

Although the exact mechanisms that cause these conditions are still unclear, it’s thought that a protein called tau plays a significant role.

In healthy people, tau helps stabilise structures in the brain, but in neurodegenerative diseases, it can clump together into "fibrils". These tangles are one of the key causes of dementia – slowing thinking and memory abilities.
Lab experiments confirmed that espresso consumption prevents these fibrils from forming. Researchers also discovered that the fibrils became shorter and didn’t form larger sheets as the concentration of espresso extract, caffeine, or genistein increased.

Shortened fibrils were found to be non-toxic to cells, and they did not act as ‘seeds’ for further aggregation,” Professor D’Onofrio explained.

Her team pulled espresso shots from store-bought beans and then characterised their chemical makeup using a scanning technique called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.

They chose caffeine and trigonelline, both alkaloids, the flavonoid genistein and theobromine, a compound also found in chocolate, to focus on in further tests.

D’Onofrio said that espresso's beneficial effects were found whether the beverage was enjoyed on its own or mixed into a latte, Americano, Flat White, or even an Espresso Martini.

Estimates put the number of cups of coffee drunk globally at more than a couple of billion daily.

The norm for brewing an espresso is to grind a relatively large amount of coffee beans, around 20 grams, as finely as possible. Hot water is forced through these finely ground beans to "pull" an espresso shot, creating a concentrated extract. This is often used as a base for other drinks, including the espresso martini.

D’Onofrio said that while coffee consumption has typically been associated with health risks, recent studies have shown that the drink might have beneficial effects when consumed in moderate quantities—thanks to its biological properties. Coffee is rich in antioxidants and plant chemicals that dampen inflammation.

Regular coffee consumption has also been linked to reduced risk of depression, premature death, protecting against type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and some cancers.

D’Onofrio added: “We have presented a large body of evidence that espresso coffee is a source of natural compounds showing beneficial properties in ameliorating tau-related pathologies.

Source: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Source: Archives

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