How does coffee protect the brain?

Scientists have proven that drinking certain types of coffee is good for brain health, but how does this popular beverage support cognitive functions? A new study identifies some of the mechanisms that allow coffee to prevent mental decline.

According to information from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, 54% of adults in the U.S. drink coffee on a daily basis.

Although drinking coffee brings with it both benefits and risks for a person’s health, a 2016 study at the University of Ulster concludes that the benefits of a coffee consumption are clearly at risk.

One of these benefits is that coffee protects the brain against cognitive barriers and strengthens their thinking abilities.

So how does this happen and how is coffee so beneficial to cognitive health? A new study at the Krembil Brain Institute asked these questions and sought answers.

Dr Donald Weaver says: “There seems to be a link between coffee consumption and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. But we wanted to investigate what caused this and we want to see which components affect age-related cognitive decline.”

Dr. Weaver and his team published their findings in Frontiers in Neuroscience, and these protective effects indicate that coffee is not caused by caffeine content, but because of the presence of components that occur during the roasting of coffee beans.

Everything About The Roasting Process

In the current study, researchers observed the effects of three types of coffee: caffeinated dark roasted, caffeinated lightly roasted and decaffeinated dark roasted.

Dr Ross Mancini, one of the study’s authors, says: “Caffeinated and decaffeinated dark roasted coffees have demonstrated similar potential in our early experiments. Therefore, we have noticed that the protective effects are not caused by caffeine.”

Over time, all connections have been recovered, and the researchers focused on a set of components called phenylindanes. These components appear during the roasting process and give the coffee the bitter aroma.

Phenylindanes components are more effective than other components of coffee and prevent tau and beta-amyloids from solidifying. These toxic proteins accumulate in the brain, causing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Dr. Weaver says: “So phenylindanes are double inhibitors. It’s interesting, we didn’t expect it.”
It seems that the longer the coffee’s roasting time leads to more phenylindanes. This suggests that dark coffee, whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, has strong protective effects on the brain.

Dr Mancini says: “We have seen for the first time that proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s interact with phenylindanes components in a person. The next step is to find out how useful these components are and see if they participate in blood flow and cross the blood-brain barrier.”

In the future, researchers want to do more study of these substances and want to see their impact on the body during the digestive process.

Mother Nature is a Better Chemist

Another exciting point of this discovery for researchers is that these coffee components are natural and do not require synthesis in the laboratory. This makes them easy to manufacture.

Dr Ross Mancini says: “Mother Nature is a better chemist than we are and can create these components. If there is a complex component, it is better to cultivate it, harvest it, and extract it to produce after grinding. What this study does is to obtain epidemological evidence and to see if there are beneficial components in coffee that will prevent cognitive decline by refining them.”

But while it’s interesting at the moment, it’s certainly not for now whether coffee is a demotion. More research needs to be done on how these components will work therapeutically in order to become a treatment option for neurodegenerative diseases.

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