Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Wisdom Wednesday: How Coffee Protects the Brain
Scientists have now proved that drinking certain types of coffee can be beneficial to brain health, but how does this popular brew support cognitive function? A new study identifies some the mechanisms that allow coffee to keep mental decline at bay.
According to data from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, about 54% of all adults in the United States drink coffee on a daily basis. While drinking coffee can bring both benefit and risks for a person’s health, a 2016 study from the University of Ulster in Coleraine, United Kingdom, concluded that the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption “clearly outweigh” the potential risks.
“Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,” notes Dr. Donald Weaver, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute which conducted the new study.
Dr. Weaver and team’s findings – published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience – suggest that the key to coffee’s brain-protecting benefits lie not in its caffeine content, but in the existence of compounds released in the process of roasting the coffee beans.
It is the phenylindanes, rather than any other coffee-related compounds, that seem to inhibit the amalgamation of tau and beta-amyloid. These are toxic proteins, of which the excessive buildup in the brain is a key factor in the neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
It appears that a longer roasting time causes the coffee beans to produce more phenylindanes. This suggests that dark roasted coffee – whether regular or decaf – has the strongest protective effect on the brain.
For the researchers, another exciting aspect of this discovery is that these coffee compounds are natural and do not require synthesis in the laboratory, which makes them less complicated to produce. “Mother Nature is a much better chemist that we are and Mother Nature is able to make these compounds. If you have a complicated compound, it’s nicer to grow it in a crop, harvest the crop, grind the crop out and extract it than try to make it.” – Dr. Ross Mancini, co-author.
The “take home” from this research is to drink dark roasted coffee. I recommend against the decaf as the chemical extraction process leaves behind some nasty chemicals in your coffee.
I also would take Dr. Mancini’s quote about Mother Nature a step further. Eat the food, drink the herb rather than using an extract whenever possible. Eating ginger is very healthy but I will recommend a ginger extract to reduce leukotriene or cytokine inflammation in the immune system as treatment. Eating ginger is part of a healthy lifestyle that can help you avoid immune system inflammation and maybe thwart autoimmune disease before it really begins.
Of course, Big Pharm has to take that natural extract and modify it in order to create a unique chemical compound that they can patent. This is where most of the side effects occur because, as Dr. Mancini said, Mother Nature is a much better chemist.
Limit your coffee intake to one or possibly two cups per day. Use organic, dark roast coffee for maximum benefit and minimum negative effects.
Source: November 6, 2018 NIH