High coffee consumption is largely associated with a decrease in brain volume. Many of us think that a morning cup of coffee is important to start the day. And while some studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption can be beneficial, how much is too much?
Studying how large doses of coffee affect the brain. Researchers from the University of South Australia wanted to know how coffee affects the brain (in particular, brain volume and the risk of dementia and stroke). They studied the effects of coffee on nearly 18,000 people aged 37 to 73, making it the largest study of its kind.
Based on their findings, it seems that coffee in excess does not provide the same benefits to the brain as coffee in moderation. Those who drank more than six cups of coffee a day had a 53% higher risk of developing dementia, and their brain volume decreased.
As co-author of the study, Ph.D. candidate Kitty Pham explains in a press release, “We have consistently found that higher coffee consumption is significantly associated with decreased brain volume-essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee a day can put you at risk for brain diseases such as dementia and stroke.”
As professor and study co-author Elina Hippenen, Ph.D., MPH, MSc, MPH, notes in the press release, the exact mechanisms underlying why excessive coffee consumption can have negative effects are not fully understood. Nevertheless, she says: “one simple thing we can do is to avoid dehydration and remember to drink some water with your cup of coffee.”
Don’t worry, coffee lovers! This study only linked adverse effects on the brain to excessive coffee consumption (more than six cups per day). On the other hand, moderate caffeine consumption is positively associated with brain health.
According to one 2010 study, drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in middle age was associated with a roughly 65% reduction in the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
In addition, coffee is a good source of antioxidant polyphenols and trigonelline, which support cognitive function and may reduce the risk of memory loss, as nutritionist Uma Naidoo, RD, previously explained to MBG.
Additional research also shows that coffee has beneficial effects on brain health, fatty liver, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.