Image via WikipediaYou probably have already read about a recent study of Swedish and Finnish participants that purports to have found a correlation between coffee drinking and a reduced risk of late-life Alzheimer disease. Depending upon the amount of coffee consumed, the risk was reduced by as much as 65%. Wow! Go coffee... go coffee... go coffee.
Many folks in this corner of the blogosphere have understandably sworn off drinking coffee altogether because of the deleterious affects of caffeine. But the study did not call out caffeine as the beneficial agent per se. It was not designed to do so. That is left for further studies to determine. However, if the positive effect is found not to be caffeine-related, then one could assume that naturally decaffeinated coffee would have the same effect and become an option for some who currently abstain. Furthermore, once the efficacious substance is identified, it might also be found to exist in other foods as well, and at the very least could be separated or manufactured and consumed in an extracted form.
As for me, I am sitting here with my steaming hot cup of Java, and there are about 3 more cups left in the carafe that sits next to my SAD light. And I will probably wind up consuming my regular daily dose of between 3 to 5 cups, before I stop some time around 2:30pm. I have set this no-coffee deadline because 6 or 7 hours is, according to my psychiatrist, about the amount of time it takes for most people's bodies to fully metabolize caffeine. My goal is to largely have it out of my system by bedtime or else sleep disruption is likely to occur, in addition to a few nocturnal trips to the bathroom. Even if you do not find it difficult to fall asleep after consuming caffeine, it is almost certain that it is shortening the amount of time your brain spends in the very crucial REM sleep cycle.
But I digress, as usual. The coffee/Alzheimer's study received my attention because my 83 year old mother suffers from dementia. It started to become noticeable about 7 years ago. Though it is steadily progressing, she is still able to move around in her apartment with her walker, and still gets to and from the bathroom, but her short term memory is shot and there are other noticeable deficits. She requires a person to be with her at all times, though she tells us thats not necessary. Fortunately she has a very patient, loving and healthy husband. My dad just turned 84 in January and is a wonderful caretaker. If it were not for him my mother would have required placement in the health care unit quite some time ago.
I visit them almost every weekend, often with my daughter, who is learning how to be a good companion to her gramma. I believe it has been an excellent experience for her. She is learning the value and wisdom of the aged population. Often she pushes my mom in her wheelchair, and goes for walk to the in-house library, gift shop, or cafe. I always give her my cell phone in case there is a problem. There never has been.
I in turn cook the meals and frequently do some grocery shopping. And because I am there with my mom, my dad is freed up to go out and do something he enjoys for several hours. Fortunately, he has never really suffered from depression as have his wife and 5 children. But that's a story for another time.
I will be listening closely for more news on what it is in coffee that has kept so many of the Swedes and Finns from aquiring Alzheimer Disease. Let me know if you hear something too! Hopefully I won't have already forgotten about this post.