I’m a coffee fanatic. I down java at a crazy pace. That irritates my dentist, but my doctor might be pleased by my near addiction to those magic beans. Why? Because consuming caffeine may actually lower our risk of developing dementia as we age, according to a new study.
The project focused on a group of about 6,500 women who were over the age of 65 and followed them for 10 years. During this time, approximately 400 of the women were diagnosed with probable dementia or some other form of cognitive impairment. But the study indicated that those who consumed more than the median amount of caffeine for the group were diagnosed at a lower rate than those who consumed less than that.
So how much caffeine are we talking? Researchers set the level at 261 milligrams per day. In real terms, this translates to two to three 8-ounce cups of coffee, five to six 8-ounce cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola per day. The research found that consuming this level of caffeine in a day reduced the risk of dementia and other cognitive impairment by 36 percent.
These findings are consistent with previous research on the topic which links caffeine consumption to a decrease in cognition problems as we age. According to one of the researchers, there is mounting evidence that caffeine consumption is a potentially protective factor against cognitive impairment.
This is exciting news for researchers and caffeine lovers alike. Caffeine is an easily modifiable dietary component with few negative health risks. And let’s face it; there isn’t a better way to start the day than with a great cup of coffee.
As with any research, this study does have its limitations. Critics say that there isn’t enough evidence to link caffeine and a reduced risk for dementia or other cognitive issues. And at the end of the day, drinking more than moderate amounts of caffeine can affect your health, sometimes leading to insomnia, restlessness, irritability, and an upset stomach. So, as with all things, moderation still seems to be the key.
The takeaway seems to be that if you don’t enjoy caffeinated beverages, the study isn’t enough to suggest you start a new habit. But if you are a coffee, tea, or soda lover, then continue on. So long as you are mindful about the amount of caffeine you consume and keep it to moderate levels, you’ll be fine.