Coffee with your doughnut may ward off Alzheimer's

April 8, 2008 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Coffee with your doughnut may ward off Alzheimer's

Just one cup of coffee day could protect the brain against the damaging effect of a high-fat, high cholesterol diet, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

 In this study, researchers from the University of North Dakota gave rabbits three milligrams caffeine each day - the equivalent of a daily cup (250 ml) of decaf coffee. The rabbits were fed a high cholesterol diet during the study period.  

After 12 weeks, lab tests showed the blood-brain barrier (BBB) of rabbits receiving the daily dose of caffeine was significantly more intact than their non-caffeinated counterparts.

The BBB protects the brain from harmful substances in the rest of the body. Studies have shown that high cholesterol can breakdown the BBB, giving way to contamination of the blood supplying the brain and nervous system. Alzheimer's patients often have high cholesterol and BBB breakdown.   

This is the first study to show that caffeine can prevent BBB breakdown by blocking the disruptive effects of cholesterol.  Caffeine appears to protect BBB breakdown by maintaining the proteins that bind the cells of the blood brain barrier.

A caffeine consumption of less than 400 milligrams per day is deemed safe by Health Canada. That's the equivalent of about three cups of regular coffee (137 milligrams of caffeine each).  

The Alzheimer's Society estimates that in 2008, roughly 97,000 Canadians will develop Alzheimer's or a related disease.

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