Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Benefits of Coffee

coffee cup
A recent article in the BBC News Health Section reads Coffee 'may reverse Alzheimer's.' The report states that a Florida study showed that caffeine slows down the growth of plaque that is responsible for dementia and that leads to Alzheimer's Disease. It also tells that previous research indicates that caffeine may even reverse the progress of the disease. Very interesting.

I have been a coffee drinker since I was in middle school. I became a coffee drinker because it helped wake me up in the mornings when I had to be in school by 7:25 every morning. And contrary to the notion that caffeine can make one jumpy, it actually relaxed my nerves so that I wasn't so fidgety and scatter-brained in class. For the same reasons that medical professionals have prescribed stimulants to patients with ADHD, the stimulant in coffee actually slows down my impulsivity and relaxes my brain in a way that I can focus a little easier, controlling the "traffic of thoughts and movement" within my brain.

That reaction seems to be supported by a statement made by Dr. Jonathan Geiger of the University of North Dakota. He states, "Caffeine is a safe and readily available drug and its ability to stabilise the blood brain barrier means it could have an important part to play in therapies against neurological disorders." Although Dr. Geiger's group's studies did not specifically focus on ADHD as a neurological disorder, the reports of caffeine's effects seems promising. The reason why caffeine in coffee has the same effect as stimulant drugs (amphetamines) on ADHD is that caffeine increases the dopamine levels, too.

Parkinson's Disease, a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrolled shaking in its sufferers, appears to also benefit from coffee. Studies show that about 80 percent of coffee drinkers are less likely to develop the disease. (I wonder if Michael J. Fox drank coffee at all?). In fact, researchers are now trying to develop drugs containing caffeine derivatives for use in Parkinson's patients.

Other studies have shown caffeine to be beneficial against diabetes as well. A Harvard University study of 126,000 people over an 18-year period showed a decreased likelihood of contracting diabetes in people who drank between one to three cups of coffee a day.

There is also a study published in the Washington Post that showed a 50 percent lower risk of chronic liver disease in coffee (or tea) drinkers than those who did not drink either of these two caffeine-containing beverages. The results were based on a study of about 10,000 people and was conducted by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Social & Scientific Systems Inc.

Of course, coffee may not be suitable for everyone. Certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure may still be adversely affected by caffeine-containing products. Always check with your doctor before consuming anything that you are unsure of.

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