Thursday, February 12, 2009

To drink or not to drink coffee

Histopathogic image of senile plaques seen in ...Image via Wikipedia

You 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.



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10 comments:

Ana said...

As they are always changing tomorrow there will be an article claiming the opposite.
I drink too much coffee. What these drugs has promoted cannot compare with caffeine.

Ruth Z Deming said...

great topic, pete! actually most studies i've read are pro-coffee, antioxidants and all that. there was even a study showing it lowered blood pressure in women only but as ana said, they're always coming up with new things.

i'm wondering if the scand'n study - which is very impressive - actually had more factors than just the coffee-drinking, such as less harried life, eat more fish, less processed food, more veggies. hard to know.

the reason i gave up coffee about 3 years ago (it was the greatest love of my life) is cuz i couldn't stand my dependency on it. i could not leave home until i'd drunk my two morning cups.

i don't miss it. tho believe me it was hell when i first gave it up. i drink it upon occasion when i have time to really kick back and enjoy it.

but why go off? life is tough enuf w/o depriving ourselves of java. besides, it's the best laxative ever invented.

susan said...

What do the kitties drink- coffee ice cream?

Coffee flavored cream?

If my Holly is going to date one of them, she has to know what will be served with the fish.

discoverandrecover said...

Huperzine A (Chinese Club Moss) has had some study....and, it's shown to be pretty impressive for Alzheimer's - at least in China....

A study was started in the U.S. some time ago, but I've not been able to find the results....

My dad had symptoms of Alzheimers, and has been on Huperzine A for the past few years...This, along with fish oil, grapeseed extract, and eating (mostly) natural foods has really turned things around for him.....

Not a lot of money in Chinese Club Moss.....Like any/all herbs...No patent to be had....no return on investment for the amount of money it would require to be FDA-approved (doing so requires on average 800 million dollars)....

So, it's unlikely we'll see it advertised soon....All I know is that it's work wonders for my dad....You can do a google, and find some information....It's sold online in a number of places, such as Swanson vitamins....

Hard to know if the drugs are not copy-cats of the natural herbs and supplements...slightly altered for a patent....The 'science' behind the drugs is hidden....we may never know about some of these drugs for things like Alzheimer's....

As far as coffee....if you go to DoctorYourself.com - Andrew Saul, PhD has an article....convinved that many people who suffer symptoms of 'schizophrenia' and 'bipolar' have nothing more (or less) than caffeine allergy....Hard to believe for many....I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt that some people may react to such an allergy (cerebral allergy) in such a way.....

Anyway, I hope your able to find some things that work for your grandmother....It's nice of you to care so much for her.

Duane

discoverandrecover said...

This is the link for the article on cafeeine on Dr. Saul's site, 'Doctor Yourself' -

http://www.doctoryourself.com/caffeine_allergy.html

Duane

Pyrs said...

@Duane - Thanks for the info. I had not heard of that before. Shall look into it. I appreciate your input.

discoverandrecover said...

Your Mother is fortunate to have you (not grandmother)....I apologize.

Duane

Stephany said...

Giving your Dad respite is a gift; besides the compassion you have for your parents, as a caregiver your Dad no doubt appreciates that too.

Tumeric in capsules is also something to research.

I gave up coffee for about 8 months then started drinking it again, and either way I'm fine physically with it or without it.

Since Christmas, it's been Starbuck's Expresso Truffle, it's addicting alright!

naturalgal said...

Hi, I used to drink about 2 pots of coffee a day. Now I try to drink only one cup. But I think it probably ends up to be 2 cups. I don't know what to believe.

I was/am addicted and I don't like that.

Mark Krusen said...

I can take it or leave it. It does clean you out pretty good if you drink to much.

That's great the way your there for your parents. It's neat the role your daughter plays also.