Blog: Caffeine can help protect brain function

Workout Anytime
Greg Maurer

We usually consume caffeine for the energy boost it provides, but for the plants that produce it, caffeine serves as a pesticide that drives away insects and animals that would like to munch on their leaves and fruit.

Science has discovered that caffeine stimulates the production of an enzyme that can help fend off Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The enzyme, NMNAT2 (nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2) helps improve  brain health in two ways:

  • It protects neurons from the negative impact of stress.
  • It helps prevent tau proteins from folding the wrong way and forming masses of harmful plaques in the brain’s neurons.

Improperly folded proteins are linked to Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) as well as Alzheimer’s.

Brain Cell Stress Reduction

Research has shown that caffeine reduces the activity of a receptor called adenosine A2A.  This receptor increases stress in brain cells and can slow your mental abilities as you age. Reducing the activity of this receptor prevents it from interrupting memory circuits in key areas of the brain.

Caffeine and Alzheimer’s

While NOT a panacea – research has confirmed that daily caffeine intake up to 261mg per day (the amount in two – three cups of coffee) significantly reduced the chance of developing dementia.

Dark Side of Caffeine

Keep in mind that too much of a good thing is not a good thing! Caffeine intake beyond 261mg has NOT been shown to improve benefits so limit your caffeine intake.

In addition, there is significant variation in how individuals respond to caffeine with slow and fast metabolizers. If you happen to be a slow metabolizer be very careful with how much caffeine you consume – and take none after Noon or you will likely disturb your sleep which is very bad for brain health!

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