Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

Consuming the right amount of coffee can be beneficial for the brain

Drinking one or two cups of coffee a day may lower your risk for a decline in cognitive abilities. But if you consume more than that, you could be increasing your risk for impaired thinking.

Mild cognitive impairment, known as MCI, affects a person’s memory and thinking skills and is considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of people in the United States who are 65 or older may experience MCI. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has shown that people who increased their coffee consumption to more than one cup a day were more likely to develop MCI than those who drank one cup or less.

The study was conducted over three-and-a-half years and followed more than fourteen-hundred older adults who were between the ages of 65 and 84. During this time, the researchers monitored the effects of coffee consumption on cognitive abilities. The study revealed that people who increased their coffee consumption over time were 1.5 times more likely to develop MCI than those who consumed just one cup of coffee each day.

But does this mean that no coffee is better than some coffee? Maybe not. The study found that people who drank one to two cups of coffee a day were at a lower risk for MCI compared with those who never or rarely drank coffee. The researchers theorize that there is an optimal amount of caffeine to positively affect the brain processes that play a role in protecting against mild cognitive impairment. One theory is that caffeine might spark a process that helps reduce the damage caused by protein fragments that build up in the brain. More studies are needed to determine what causes coffee — in just the right amount — to act as a protective agent against mild cognitive impairment.

So for now, drink up, but just a little bit.

The University of Florida Memory and Cognitive Disorders Clinic one of thirteen memory disorder clinics or centers in Florida to receive partial support from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative, a statewide program addressing the concerns of people in Florida who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

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