New study reports caffeine significantly boosts an enzyme closely involved in protection against Alzheimer´s disease and other forms of dementia. Out of 1,280 compounds tested only 24 were identified as beneficial, with caffeine at the very top of the list.

The thought of loosing one´s memory is so devastating it scored dementia the #1 spot in the list of diseases we fear most. Even scarier is the fact that we don´t really know much about it, let alone how to treat it. A new study published in Nature Scientific Reports now suggests the silver lining could be hiding in your morning cup of joe.

Recent evidence pointed at the enzyme NMNAT, as a key player in protecting our aging brains from degeneration and falling apart. This made neuroscientists jump all over it, and just days ago a team from the University of Indiana successfully identified 24 compounds that spike up NMNAT production in the brain. What´s bizarre about it however, is which compound proved most potent in its neuroprotective role. You guessed it – caffeine.

“This work could help advance efforts to develop drugs that increase levels of this enzyme in the brain, creating a chemical ‘blockade’ against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disorders,” said lead researcher Hui-Chen Lu.

This is not the first time caffeine has been linked to a protective effect on cognition, only the most recent one. Another study in women aged 65 or older even showed that those who drank coffee on a regular basis (two cups per day) were 36% less likely to develop dementia. Considering moderate caffeine consumption hasn´t been linked to any diseases, these results do make a compelling case for the therapeutic benefits of drinking coffee. However,  that does not necessarily mean that coffee is completely harmless. As every coffee drinker will know, having one cup too many can cause a nasty headache. It’s always a good idea to weigh both the benefits and the drawbacks.

Learn about many other upsides of drinking coffee in the video below:

By Luka Zupančič, MSc, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Vienna