Monday, June 10, 2013

Proudly Coffeed

There was a time I thought coffee something to be avoided, sort of like chewing gum and chocolate.  I'd proudly drink my fake coffee, counting on my youthful good health to keep my brain sharp and my body energized.

Nowadays over and over articles appear in the news praising the wonders and health benefits of drinking coffee, a few cups a day.  

Other recent studies have linked moderate coffee drinking — the equivalent of three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day or a single venti-size Starbucks — with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate canceroral cancer and breast cancer recurrence.
Perhaps most consequential, animal experiments show that caffeine may reshape the biochemical environment inside our brains in ways that could stave off dementia. In a 2012 experiment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, mice were briefly starved of oxygen, causing them to lose the ability to form memories. Half of the mice received a dose of caffeine that was the equivalent of several cups of coffee. After they were reoxygenated, the caffeinated mice regained their ability to form new memories 33 percent faster than the uncaffeinated. Close examination of the animals’ brain tissue showed that the caffeine disrupted the action of adenosine, a substance inside cells that usually provides energy, but can become destructive if it leaks out when the cells are injured or under stress. The escaped adenosine can jump-start a biochemical cascade leading to inflammation, which can disrupt the function of neurons, and potentially contribute to neurodegeneration or, in other words, dementia.
In a 2012 study of humans, researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami tested the blood levels of caffeine in older adults with mild cognitive impairment, or the first glimmer of serious forgetfulness, a common precursor of Alzheimer’s disease, and then re-evaluated them two to four years later. Participants with little or no caffeine circulating in their bloodstreams were far more likely to have progressed to full-blown Alzheimer’s than those whose blood indicated they’d had about three cups’ worth of caffeine.

At my advanced age that's definitely good news. I like coffee and I like the energy burst I get from it.  Normally I only drink coffee in the morning, unless I'm jetlagged.  And when I drink coffee, I drink a lot.

From what's written in this article I wonder if some people suffering dementia would do well drinking real coffee.  In most cases when people enter assisted living or nursing care, their coffee loses its punch, being decaffinated.   Maybe they need the realthing...


YG said...

I've worked in nursing homes and witnessed the rising levels of alertness, lucidity and joy in Alzheimer patients who did exercise, ate nourishing snacks or engaged in sensory therapy (smelling familiar things such as fresh-baked cookies, perfume or after shave, shoe polish, feeling familiar textures such as wood, fabric, grocery carts, hearing familiar music etc etc etc). The effects were temporary but the therapy was focused on frequent reminders that would, ideally, build longer memories.

Lady-Light said...

(from the sublime to...)
How does one gauge a mouse's memory? Seeing if he returns to the place you hid the cheese?
(I'm a little nutty because I haven't had my coffee this morning!)

Lorri said...

I love my coffee in the morning. I need those two cups to move me along.

Interesting take on nursing homes and "real" coffee versus decaffeinated. I bet there is a relationship to that.

Batya said...

YG, it gets more complicated when the resident isn't mobile.
LL, mice have been used for these experiments for a long time...
Lorri, if caffeine helps young brains, why not old ones?