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That’s the conclusion of a new long-term study by researchers at Edith Cowan University. More than 200 Australians have been followed for a decade to assess the effects of coffee consumption on cognitive decline. The results show that people who drank more coffee had a lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease.
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Several scientific studies, including a meta-analysis published in 2017, suggested that “normal” coffee consumption (three to four cups per day) has beneficial effects on a variety of conditions, including stroke, heart failure, cancers, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. . The caffeine it contains acts in particular as a psychotropic stimulant and as a mild diuretic.
Several studies have already highlighted the protective role of coffee in relation to Alzheimer’s disease. However, some data from cohorts of older people suggest, on the contrary, that, consumed in excess, coffee increases the risk of dementia. Therefore, a team of Australian researchers set out to conduct a long-term study (126 months) to assess the relationship between habitual self-reported coffee consumption and cognitive decline, which was assessed using a comprehensive neuropsychological battery; they also examined the effects of coffee on the accumulation of Aβ-amyloid deposits in the brain and brain volume.
Drinking more coffee slows the accumulation of amyloid Aβ in the brain
Coffee lovers can rejoice: the results confirm the hypothesis that coffee consumption could be a protective factor against Alzheimer’s disease. Higher consumption can reduce cognitive decline by slowing down the accumulation of Aβ-amyloid in the brain, thus attenuating the neurotoxicity associated with oxidative stress and inflammatory processes mediated by this protein.
The study involved 227 cognitively normal participants enrolled in the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle (AIBL) study; Launched in 2006, this large-scale study aims to discover biological markers, cognitive characteristics, as well as health and lifestyle factors that determine the later development of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. All AIBL study volunteers were 60 years old at the start of the study and had no history of dementia or other mental disorders.
The results of this new study show that drinking more coffee has positive effects on certain areas of cognitive function, particularly executive function which includes planning, self-control and attention. “We found that participants without memory impairment and with higher coffee consumption at the beginning of the study had a lower risk of switching to mild cognitive impairment, which often precedes Alzheimer’s disease, or developing Alzheimer’s disease during the study, “summarizes Dr. Samantha Gardener. , the principal investigator.
Graphical representation of the average change in the cerebral accumulation of Aβ-amyloid, during 126 months, as a function of the tertiles of coffee consumption (low tertile = 0-26 g / day; medium tertile = 36-250 g / day; high tertile = 360-750 g / day). © S. Gardener et al.
Higher coffee consumption was also associated with a slower accumulation of Aβ amyloid over 126 months. In contrast, no association was observed between coffee consumption and atrophy of the gray matter, white matter, or hippocampal volume for the duration of the study.
Two cups are better than one!
While more research is needed to validate these findings, Dr. Gardener finds this study encouraging as it indicates that drinking coffee could be a simple way to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. “It is a simple thing that people can change. We could develop clear guidelines that middle-aged people can follow and hopefully that could have a lasting effect at that time, ”he said.
What are the recommended amounts? The study evokes a beneficial effect of two cups a day (considering that an average cup is 240 g, or 24 cL approximately): “If the average cup of coffee prepared at home is 240 g, the increasing consumption of a at two cups per day could lead to an 8% decrease in executive function decline over an 18-month period, ”the researchers write. This daily amount could also lead to a 5% decrease in brain Aβ-amyloid accumulation over the same period.
Note that the study was unable to differentiate standard coffee from decaffeinated coffee, nor the benefits or consequences of its brewing method (brewing method, presence of milk and / or sugar, etc.). In fact, researchers have yet to determine precisely which components in coffee are responsible for its seemingly positive effects on brain health. Caffeine, which is a stimulant of the central nervous system and metabolism, certainly plays an important role: it is known to increase alertness and concentration and improve the overall coordination of the body.
But some preliminary research shows that it may not be the only factor contributing to the possible delay of Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine and raw caffeine, a byproduct of the coffee decaffeination process, partially prevented memory impairment in mice, and raw caffeine produced a greater effect than pure caffeine. Other components of coffee such as cafestol, kahweol and eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) also appear to reduce cognitive decline in animals according to several studies.
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, S. Gardener et al.
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