Love coffee? You might be in luck. Although the fresh, aromatic bean has long been lauded for its many uses and benefits, it can be difficult to see a real use for coffee outside of its primary function -- keeping us awake when we don't have the energy to ourselves.
However, if you're an avid drinker, you might have a better understanding of the many other benefits of a cup of coffee, such as its ability to reduce heart disease, improve digestion, or even serve as a diuretic. And, in a recent study conducted by Indiana University, 24 compounds were revealed to be able to reduce the impact of harmful proteins in the brain that cause dementia.
Among these compounds, caffeine was confirmed to work alongside a powerful enzyme in the brain that allowed for the creation of a "chemical blockade against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative diseases," said Hui-Chen Lu, a leading researcher for the study.
One of the causes of Alzheimer's is through the mis-folding -- or, for those unfamiliar with cellular processes, the improper formation -- of proteins. The targeted enzyme, NMNAT2 in this case, protects neurons from stress -- which can cause degradation as well as protein mis-folding -- thus directly combating one of the causes of neurodegenerative disease.
To determine which compounds best assisted the function of NMNAT2, more than 1,200 compounds were analyzed. And only after a large number of rigorous tests was it found that 24 compounds--including caffeine--were able to combat the negative protein mis-folding through NMNAT2 solidification. Another relatively common compound easily accessible by the general public was retinoic acid, a chemical associated with antiaging effects and cellular regeneration.
Thus, it turns out that, if you're a big caffeine addict, it might actually be able to help you more than hurt you -- provided that you're consuming responsibly, of course. If you're looking for ways to reduce your chances of harmful neurodegenerative pathways in the brain, it might be worth trying out things you normally wouldn't to better prepare your body for the inevitable long term.