In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers at the University of South Florida tracked elderly patients over a four year period and found that those with the highest levels of caffeine in their bloodstream at the inception of and throughout the term of the study were less likely to contract Alzheimer’s disease. These findings support previous studies which proved that drinking three cups of a coffee a day can significantly reduce the risk of developing the intractable illneess. (See our post, “Caffeine Protects Us from the Cognitive Decline of Alzheimer’s Disease.”)
Alzheimer’s disease destroys chemical messengers within the brain and begins with the build-up of deposits – called plaques and tangles – that can disrupt normal messaging systems by causing inflammation. Most people who contract this disease die within ten years of being diagnosed. The cost of caring for victims is more than stroke, heart disease, and cancer put together.
To find out if caffeine had a protective effect on the brain, these scientists recruited 124 men and women aged between 65 and 88. The study’s participants were given blood tests to assess their caffeine levels and were tracked for up to four years to see how many developed mild cognitive impairment, regarded as an early sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The results: Those who remained healthy had twice as much caffeine circulating in their systems as those who progressed to the early stages of dementia.
The caffeine in coffee was clearly responsible for the protection against Alzheimer’s disease. “This case-control study provides the first direct evidence that caffeine intake is associated with a reduced risk, or delayed onset, of dementia,”‘ researchers commented, adding, “‘Coffee would appear to be the major or perhaps only source of caffeine for such stable patients.”
However, whether you get your caffeine from coffee or from any other source, keeping your blood levels of the drug high offers unambiguous protection against developing this fatal, brain destroying illness.