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Can Coffee Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s?

By | December 11th, 2019

Can that morning cup of coffee actually help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

A new report from the Institute on Scientific Information on Coffee in Europe offers a balanced look at the science behind coffee and caffeine, and finds no clear evidence whether coffee can actually help prevent neurodegenerative disease.

A news release about the reports offers up the tantalizing suggestion that a “lifelong regular intake of coffee may have protective effect related to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative conditions.”

But the report itself is more cautious. It notes that research into the connection between coffee consumption and Alzheimer’s disease actually shows varied results, with many studies suggesting that a lifelong intake of coffee/caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s while others were unable to prove clear causation. 

The report does say, however, that a review in 2018 suggested that more than 75 percent of the research supports the opinion that caffeine has a favorable effect against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.

The Institute on Scientific Information on Coffee is funded by six of Europe’s major European coffee companies: illycaffè, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lavazza, Nestlé, Paulig, and Tchibo.

Diet Vs Coffee

Coffee, like wine or chocolate, is often making headlines for new studies that tout its health benefits: from boosting your cognitive function to improving your gut health. Past research has examined how coffee may protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

However, Elisabeth Rothenberg, an associate professor at the Department of Food and Meal Science at Kristianstad University in Sweden and an author of the latest report, notes that the scientific consensus is much clearer when it comes to the impact of diet on neurodegenerative conditions.

Rothenberg writes that nutrition research currently focuses more on the impact of overall food choices rather than particular nutrients or individual food items in maintaining good health. She says that the most well-documented dietary impact comes from the Mediterranean diets. Those are heavy on plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains and olive oil, and they avoid saturated fats, animal-derived proteins and refined sugars.

“Positive associations between Mediterranean dietary patterns and better cognitive scores and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Diseases have been shown,” Rothenberg says. “Although results vary, a majority of studies suggest that closer adherence to a Mediterranean style diet is associated with a lower risk for cognitive decline, probably acting by modifying pathways related to a more general aging process.”

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