Sunday, May 22, 2011

Coffee Can Save Your Brain


Drinking coffee, by and large, is one of modern man’s exquisite pleasures. Coffee literally perks one up from the doldrums of everyday life. It elevates one’s spirits whenever it is needed.
“A daily dose of caffeine blocks the disruptive effects of high cholesterol that scientists have linked to Alzheimer’s disease. A study in the open access publication, Journal of Neuroinflammation revealed that caffeine equivalent to just one cup of coffee a day could protect the blood-brain barrier (BBB) from damage that occurred with a high-fat diet.”
We’re all equipped with a blood-brain barrier, which acts as a filter to isolate the brain from chemicals found in your body that shouldn’t be in your brain. One reason high cholesterol is bad for your brain is that it damages the blood-brain barrier to the point that it’s not as good at keeping harmful chemicals out.
Though this study found that daily caffeine helps protect the blood-brain barrier in rabbits, it’s still (sadly) too early for coffee drinkers to cast away fears of fat intake. Even if the results translate to humans, a high-fat diet is bad for your body and brain in a number of other ways. Still, this is one more reason to appreciate your morning java.
Through the years, it has been discovered that coffee, aside from the pleasurable drink that it is, actually helps boost a person’s health in so many ways. 
Coffee as an Antioxidant.
Grapes, cranberries and dates are high in antioxidants aside from their vitamins and minerals. Yet, people get more antioxidants from coffee than from these fruits or other vegetables.
One reason we get our antioxidants from coffee is that we simply consume more of it than any other source of antioxidants. According to a study by Nestle Research Center in Switzerland, coffee has four times more antioxidants than the famous green tea. It has also more antioxidants than cocoa, herbal teas, and red wine.
One other good thing is that both decaffeinated coffee and a regular brew have the same antioxidants. Decaf or not, coffee helps people fight off damaging effects of free radicals. Oxidation is a normal process that breaks down chemicals in our bodies. However, it also creates free radicals which can attack our cells. (Tobacco smoke and radiation can also create free radicals.)
Left alone, free radicals can cause permanent body damage. Antioxidants, which have also been linked to protection against heart disease and cancer, round up and neutralize these damaging radicals in the system.
Coffee as a Stimulant.
The caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant. This is why it is a perfect morning beverage to start the day. Recent studies have also discovered additional stimulants not related to caffeine. It is a chemical agent, unknown as yet, that induces production of cortisone and adrenaline, two stimulating hormones. Tip: If you want coffee to keep you alert, drink small amounts of coffee throughout the day.
Coffee Enhances Short Term Recall and Increases IQ.
In tests, people who regularly drank coffee were found to perform better in simple reaction time, incidental verbal memory, and visual-spatial reasoning. Another study showed that women over 80 years old who regularly drank coffee throughout their lives performed significantly better on cognitive tests.
Coffee and Diabetes.
There have also been discoveries on the beneficial connection between coffee and diabetes. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham Women’s Hospital have found that the participants in their study who regularly drank coffee significantly reduced the risk of the onset of type 2 diabetes, compared to non-coffee drinking participants. Their findings appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Jan. 6, 2004 issue.
Coffee and Fiber.
The presence of fiber in coffee seemed a dubious idea at first. But recent findings in Spain suggest that the levels of soluble fiber in coffee are higher than those found in wine and orange juice. This is the fiber that helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestines. One interesting note: the fiber is higher in instant coffee than in freshly ground coffee.
Coffee as an Analgesic.
It has also been found that caffeine increases the effectiveness of pain-killers, especially migraine and common headaches. (caffeine is included in the formula of some headache drugs) Since regular coffee contains caffeine, coffee can help in significantly toning down simple headaches and migraine.
Coffee and Other Diseases.
There are other diseases that coffee seems to fight off. A recent study (2009) found that moderate coffee drinkers had a reduced risk of developing dementia in addition to Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee drinkers are likewise significantly less likely to contract Parkinson’s disease later in life. It has also been shown that coffee can reduce the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver and a primary liver cancer with cirrhosis. The same is true of coffee’s consumption correlated to reduced risk of oral, esophageal and pharyngeal cancers.
All in all, coffee has been through many scientific studies. The old myths about coffee have been banished. Formal scientific discoveries though the years have uncovered significant positive health benefits associated with coffee drinking. Let’s have a coffee toast to that.
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