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Coffee Helps Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s


Neurodegenerative disease describes a range of conditions that primarily affect the neurons in the human brain. They are, according to the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND), “incurable and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration and/or death of nerve cells.”

Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are arguably the two most well-known neurodegenerative diseases. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018. This number includes an estimated 5.5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.” The Parkinson’s Foundation states that “Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year,” and that, “Nearly one million will be living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the U.S. by 2020.”

As bleak as those statistics are, a sizeable body of research has shown that coffee consumption is correlated with a decreased risk of developing these two diseases [1, 2]. New research [3] now reveals the compounds that may be responsible for this protective effect. Dr. Donald Weaver states, “Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. But we wanted to investigate why that is—which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline.”

Their initial research noted assorted benefits from coffee’s caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and quinic acid components, but none of those were identified as the primary benefitting agents for protecting against Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The researchers then discovered that phenylindanes, a group of compounds produced in coffee via the roasting process, were responsible for coffee’s cognitive-protective benefits. The researchers found that phenylindanes had the ability to inhibit the clumping of protein fragments known as tau and amyloid beta, which occur in the brains of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease patients.

While allowing that more research would be needed to confirm just how beneficial phenylindanes’ benefits are, Dr. Ross Mancini remarked, “It’s the first time anybody’s investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.” Dr. Weaver concluded, “What this study does is take the epidemiological evidence and try to refine it and to demonstrate that there are indeed components within coffee that are beneficial to warding off cognitive decline.”

It is suggested that since roasting increases phenylindane content, dark roast coffee may have more potent effects than light roast.

Coffee. It not only energizes your brain, it provides powerful protection for your brain!

[1] Chuanhai Cao, Li Wang, Xiaoyang Lin, Malgorzata Mamcarz, Chi Zhang, Ge Bai, Jasson Nong, Sam Sussman and Gary Arendash. Caffeine Synergizes with Another Coffee Component to Increase Plasma GCSF: Linkage to Cognitive Benefits in Alzheimer’s Mice. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 25(2), June 28, 2011

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