The Relationship Between Coffee and Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline is essentially the deterioration of cognitive functions, including reaction time, memory, and decision-making. Though it is clear the short-term effects of caffeine on the brain produce a stimulatory effect and enhances mental alertness, attention, memory and concentration, can its consumption lead to long-term benefits?

Cognitive decline is essentially the deterioration of cognitive functions, including reaction time, memory, and decision-making. Age is one of the largest risk factors of cognitive decline, with some individuals starting to experience related symptoms as early as age 45. While the rate at which cognition declines is variable, a growing body of evidence supports nutrition contributes to healthy brain aging.

The Relationship Between Coffee and Age-Related Cognition

In addition to the initial energy jolt and these health benefits coffee offers, moderate coffee consumption can actually hold great significance in regards to mental health. Despite what is left to be known regarding long-term effects of coffee and cognitive decline, researchers have found midlife coffee drinking can lower risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later on in life. In fact, researchers found people who drank three to five cups daily decreased their risk by 65 percent, ultimately brewing up the possibilities for more solidified preventative measures.

Researchers hypothesize the benefits of coffee may be related to caffeine, as the compound may lower the activation of adenosine A2A receptors (A2ARs). Deactivation of the receptor may reduce damage caused by beta-amyloid, a protein fragment shown to build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The accumulation of beta-amyloid mostly interferes with the communication of nerve cells, posing the risk of compromised cognition. Interestingly, too, researchers speculate benefits can be related to the composition of coffee itself, rather than the caffeine contents it contains. But being a plant-based beverage, coffee contains more than 1,000 different compounds and mostly in the forms of phytochemicals that provide its potent antioxidant activity.

Pouring Out the Benefits

To pour out such valuable benefits, nutrition experts encourage consuming actual coffee… Not the drinks that are essentially nothing more than syrup and milk, all topped with whipped cream. Doctoring up coffee with added ingredients can eventually deter the benefits it offers, as adding on numerous calories from sugar and fat can lead to other health concerns. But if unable to sip on a cup of plain black coffee, look for “light” or “skinny” drinks items, along with lessening syrup pumps, utilizing sugar-free options, adding a small splash of milk, and enjoying a small dollop of or dismissing whipped cream. And if an avid Starbucks devotee, find out their healthiest and unhealthiest options here.

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Our team of dietitians, chefs and fitness experts love to share helpful information and tips to make living your best life as easy as possible. We stand for longer and healthier living through what we eat and how we live.