Dementia risk could be reduced by drinking just one espresso coffee a day

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Dementia risk could be reduced by drinking just one espresso coffee a day
Dementia risk could be reduced by drinking just one espresso coffee a day

Scientists have uncovered a potential ally in the fight against dementia: the humble espresso.

A new study conducted by a team of scientists at Verona University suggests that consuming just one espresso a day could have a significant impact on reducing the risk of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

The study's lead author, Professor Mariapina D'Onofrio, and her team delved into the effects of espresso consumption on the brain, specifically focusing on its ability to counteract the formation of tau proteins. These proteins are notorious for accumulating in the brains of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's.

The research indicates that the compounds found in espresso actively break down these tau proteins, thus preventing the damage they inflict on neurons and the subsequent cognitive decline.

Dementia risk could be reduced by drinking just one espresso coffee a day eideziqkeiqhhinvThe effects of caffeine on the risk of developing dementia has been studied many times (Getty Images)

The study's findings indicate that even the trendy Espresso Martini cocktail, a favorite among many, contains espresso's beneficial compounds that can contribute to staving off the processes associated with dementia.

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In healthy individuals, tau proteins play a crucial role in stabilizing brain structures. However, in those afflicted with neurodegenerative diseases, these proteins can clump together into harmful 'fibrils' that disrupt neural function, leading to cognitive impairments characteristic of dementia.

Dementia risk could be reduced by drinking just one espresso coffee a dayRecently published research suggests that compounds found in espresso may inhibit tau protein aggregation, a process associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Laboratory experiments conducted as part of the study demonstrated that espresso effectively counteracts the formation of these fibrils. The research also noted a geographical angle to the findings. The study revealed that around 96 per cent of Italians consume espresso on a daily basis, indicating a potential dietary habit that may contribute to the lower prevalence of dementia in certain regions.

Utilizing advanced scanning techniques, the team employed nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to delve into the chemical composition of espresso shots made from store-bought beans.

Dementia risk could be reduced by drinking just one espresso coffee a dayApproximately half of all Americans drink coffee daily, with espresso being a popular way to enjoy it (Getty Images)

Professor D'Onofrio said: "Whether enjoyed on its own or mixed into a latte, Americano or even a martini, espresso provides an ultra-concentrated jolt of caffeine to coffee lovers.

"But it might do more than just wake you up. Espresso compounds can inhibit tau protein aggregation - a process that is believed to be involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease."

Another key study in Florida, which was reported on in 2012, followed people with mild cognitive impairment (thinking and memory problems beyond normal ageing) and monitored their caffeine levels and their cognitive ability over the next two to four years.

The researchers found that people who did not develop dementia had twice as much caffeine in their blood as those who did.

However, according to the Alzheimer's society, often theses studies cannot be relied on for a definitive answer. There is no way of determining if the caffeine levels affected dementia or if it is the other way round. Sleeping problems brought on by dementia might cause someone to give up caffeine, for example. The results cannot distinguish between cause and effect.

Lucy Williamson

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