How coffee can help save your memory

If there is one thing that helps me face my day, then it is my early morning coffee. And what better way to start the day than to sip on a warm cup of steaming hot goodness?

In the past decade, coffee has slowly but surely made a name for itself as an unexpected superfood and it has shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Recently, a study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that caffeine could potentially help ward off the onset of dementia. The research behind this study was quite technical and involved an enzyme called nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2, or NMNAT2.

NMNAT2 plays an important role in brain cells, called neurons, which consist of a compact cell body and one or more long ‘arms’, or axons. These ‘arms’ are responsible for carrying nerve impulses. NMNAT2 must be supplied by the cell body to the axons because a deficiency can leave the axon vulnerable to damage.

And this is where coffee comes into the picture…

NMNAT2 plays at least two roles in brain cells: protecting axons from stress and combating misfolded proteins called tau, which accumulate as ‘plaques’ in Alzheimer’s disease. This latest study found that caffeine boost NMNAT2 production.

In fact, when the researchers fed caffeine to mice that had been genetically engineered to have low NMNAT2 levels, the animals produced as much of the enzyme as mice with normal levels of NMNAT2.

Okay, I know.

It might still be long shot before caffeine is commandeered as next Alzheimer’s drug, but at the very least this study suggests that your morning shot of coffee could be doing more good than just giving you an energy boost.

As always, moderation is key. The same applies when it comes to drinking coffee, especially if you are diabetic. In some instances excessive caffeine consumption can increase both blood sugar and blood insulin levels, while reducing insulin sensitivity. So, what you gain on the roundabouts you may well lose on the swings.

To a healthier life,

Thomas Smith