Women, Coffee and Memory
We all know how much sharper we feel mentally after that first cup of coffee in the morning and that a cup of coffee late morning or after lunch can carry us through the afternoon but did you know that the effects could actually be long term?
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study
If you are a woman aged 50 or more who enjoys her coffee, you may just be doing your brain a favour. Researchers from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recently announced the results of a 10 year study into the effects of caffeine consumption on brain function in post-menopausal women. Although generally speaking women have a 1 in 6 chance of developing dementia at the age of 65 as opposed to men who have a 1 in 11 chance, according to this study these odds improve slightly in post-menopausal women who enjoy a high caffeine intake. Women who drank 3 or more cups of coffee a day apparently showed fewer signs of cognitive decline than women who drank one cup a day or less.
Black or Fancy?
Obviously increasing your daily caffeine intake does not mean guzzling gallons of cola, diet or otherwise, or piling on fancy sugar and cream laden designer coffees at your local Starbucks. These can contribute to Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease which can actually increase your risk of developing dementia. A better source of caffeine is straight black coffee as it does not add extra sugar, fat or chemicals to your diet. Find a roast that you like and enjoy drinking with the minimum of additives. If you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) or are on medication, talk to your doctor before increasing your daily caffeine intake.
Caffeine and Lifestyle Choices
Studies like this are useful in that they show us how good brain health may be the sum of many small influences, many of which may actually be within our control, rather than any one specific thing. While we cannot control our genetic inheritance we can reduce the odds against us by making various healthy lifestyle choices. While the statistics in this particular study outcome are not definitive as the women participating self-reported their caffeine intake and other factors may have been influential in the outcomes, new avenues of research are opened up by the questions arising and we may see a more stringent scientific study exploring this possible correlation in the near future.
We remind you once again that we ourselves are not doctors and cannot give medical advice or make diagnoses. Information in our articles is not to be regarded as a substitute for seeing a doctor or other qualified medical professional.
You can read more details of the Wisconsin-Milwaukee study here.
From a different perspective, the British National Health Service has taken a closer look at this argument and evaluates the findings more objectively in this report.
It is worth reading both articles to get a balanced perspective of these findings.