Does Drinking Coffee and Tea Lower the Risk of Dementia?

brain health healthy eating healthy living healthy recipes real food resilience stress-free sugarfree Jun 12, 2022

If you love your morning coffee or tea, but sometimes feel guilty because you’ve heard some reports that it may not be so healthy, here’s a reason to continue to enjoy it!

First, a brief recap of stroke and dementia. Stroke accounts for 10% of all deaths worldwide and is one of the leading causes of disability. Dementia is “a progressive and unrelenting deterioration of mental capacity that inevitably compromises independent living.” Dementia can happen as a result of traumatic brain injury, brain tumours, poisons, brain infections, cerebral degeneration, and diseases of the vascular (circulatory) system like cerebrovascular diseases (e.g., stroke) and metabolic diseases (e.g., diabetes). Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of effective treatments for dementia, so as you get older, prevention becomes more and more important.

You may be wondering what stroke and dementia have in common with each other, other than the fact that they both affect the brain. For one thing, having a stroke puts you at double the risk of developing dementia later on (called “post-stroke dementia”). Also, a recent study showed that when you compare the risk factors and protective factors for stroke and dementia, there is a 60% overlap between the two. This means that most of the things that can affect your risk for stroke are the same things that can affect your risk for dementia.

Where do coffee and tea fit into these risks for stroke and dementia?

Coffee and tea are some of the most popular drinks. Several studies have shown that coffee and tea drinkers have reduced risks of stroke and dementia. A new study, recently published in the journal "PLos medicine," aimed to dive deeper and find out more about this link.

The researchers looked at a huge survey of people in the UK and narrowed in on coffee and tea drinkers who were 50-74 years old. This included data from [a whopping] 365,682 participants. They analyzed how much coffee and tea participants reported that they drank. Then, they followed them for about 11 years and checked medical records to see how many of them experienced stroke or dementia. Out of all those participants, 10,053 experienced at least one stroke and 5,079 developed dementia.

When they ran the numbers, here’s what they found. Compared to people who did not drink coffee or tea, people who drank:

  • 2-3 cups of coffee/day had lower risks of stroke, dementia, and post-stroke dementia
  • 3-5 cups of tea/day had lower risks of stroke and dementia
  • 2-3 cups of coffee/day and 2-3 cups of tea/day (for a total intake of 4-6 cups/day) had lower risks of stroke, dementia, and post-stroke dementia

If you’re wondering why tea drinkers don’t have a lower risk for post-stroke dementia, that is a great question! More research is needed to figure this out.

The researchers concluded that:

“We found that drinking coffee and tea separately or in combination were associated with lower risk of stroke and dementia. Intake of coffee alone or in combination with tea was associated with lower risk of post-stroke dementia.”

Fun Fact: This study grouped decaf, regular, and instant coffee drinkers together into their “coffee drinkers” group. They also grouped black and green tea drinkers together into their “tea drinkers” group. This means that we can’t separate out the different varieties of coffee and tea from each other based on this particular study.

What is it about coffee and tea that can help them protect your brain?

Coffee and tea contain more than just caffeine. 

Both coffee and tea consumption are linked with healthier lining of the blood vessels, which may protect against stroke. Coffee drinkers also tend to have lower risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. These can help to reduce risk of stroke and dementia.

Coffee and tea also contain several beneficial compounds that impact the brain (including caffeine) as well as being rich sources of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that are thought to have anti-inflammatory and other protective effects. 

In other words, there are a lot of possible ways that coffee and tea can help protect your brain from stroke and dementia.

Should you aim to drink 2-3 cups of coffee and/or tea each day?

What was interesting in this study was that one single cup of coffee and/or tea each day didn’t seem to be as protective as 2-3 cups per day was. If you’re already drinking coffee and/or tea regularly—and you want to continue—you can consider aiming for 2-3 cups per day. If you’re drinking more than that, you may consider cutting down a bit. This is especially true if you’re experiencing side effects of too much caffeine, like a fast heartbeat, irritability, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping.

While we know that coffee and tea contain much more than just caffeine (hello: antioxidants), we can use caffeine as a measure to know how much coffee or tea may be too much.

For reference, the recommended maximum intake of caffeine is 400 mg per day for good health.

But, how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee or tea?

According to the Mayo Clinic, each 8 oz. (237 mL) cup of (non-decaf) coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine, brewed black tea has about 50 mg, and a brewed green tea has about 30 mg. When it comes to decaffeinated coffee and tea, those numbers drop dramatically to about 2 mg of caffeine per cup. 

Taken together, this means that 2 cups of regular coffee (2 * 100 = 200 mg caffeine) and 2 cups of regular tea (2 * 50 = 100 mg caffeine) still keeps you below the maximum of 400 mg caffeine per day. And 300 mg of caffeine per day also falls under the amounts of coffee and tea that seem to reduce your risk of stroke and dementia, according to this study.

Bottom line, a couple of cups a day of your favourite tea or coffee beverage appears to be a healthy choice.  And not just for your physical body, but also – as long as you stop your other activities to simply enjoy the moment – for your emotional health and stress reduction.

See below for a versatile recipe for your morning tea or coffee, using a high speed blender to combine it with healthy fats and other supplements that will contribute to the health of your body and brain.

And while, we can’t say that drinking coffee or tea prevents stroke or dementia, we can say that people who drink 2-3 cups of coffee/day and/or 2-3 cups of tea/day have lower risks of getting certain types of strokes and dementias.  

And that’s great news to ponder as you enjoy your morning cuppa!

 

RECIPE ~ Morning Coffee Elixir

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Coffee (brewed)

  • 1 tbsp Ghee

  • 2 tbsps full-fat Coconut Milk (canned)

Optional extras

  • 1 tsp Maca Powder

  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

  • 1 tsp Mushroom Powder (like Reishi)

  • 1 tbsp MCT oil

Directions

  1. Pour your brewed coffee into a blender with the other ingredients. Blend on high for 15-30 seconds or until frothy. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Note:  Can also be made with your favourite tea.

 

References:

Zhang, Y., Yang, H., Li, S., Li, W. D., & Wang, Y. (2021). Consumption of coffee and tea and risk of developing stroke, dementia, and poststroke dementia: A cohort study in the UK Biobank. PLoS medicine, 18(11), e1003830. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8594796/

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003830

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/963054?src=soc_tw_211117_mscpedt_news_mdscp_stroke&faf=1

https://neurosciencenews.com/caffeine-stroke-dementia-19662/

https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/alz.12203

https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/02/01/polyphenols-antioxidants-the-chemistry-of-tea/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372

For more info on this and other natural health topics:

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