Coffee is pretty well known for its multitude of short – term and long – term health benefits. This includes increased concentration, reduced reaction time, source of cancer – fighting antioxidants, and many more.
But did you know that coffee can possibly also reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease? We say possibly because this theory is still being researched, but the early signs are positive.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
You probably have heard the term “Parkinson’s Disease” more over the years. This is because the neurological disease is on the rise all over the world, including in Singapore.
A 2019 report from the Ministry of Health reported that 3 in 1000 Singaporeans suffer from Parkinson’s, with an estimated 100,000 Singaporeans to be affected by neurological diseases in 2030.
Parkinson’s Disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder (meaning it affects the brain) and has symptoms such as postural reflex impairment, muscular rigidity, tremors while resting, limited motoric functions, etc. It is greatly influenced by environmental, dietary, and lifestyle factors.
Can Coffee Protect You Against Parkinson’s Disease?
It has been theorised that one of the dietary changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease in old age is by adding coffee to your daily routine.
This has been supported by early research which found increased caffeine consumption to be inversely correlated to the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. Some studies even found that drinking 3 – 4 glasses of coffee per day can reduce your risk by up to 31%.
Of course, further studies are required to verify the effectiveness of coffee in protecting people from Parkinson’s Disease.
How Exactly Does Coffee Help Prevent Parkinson’s Disease?
A cup of joe actually contains over 1000 different chemical compounds. This includes substances such as amino acids, fatty acids, sugars, organic acids, and many more. The fatty acid scientists are interested in is the Eicosanoyl – 5 – hydroxytryptamide (EHT). This acid, when consumed in conjunction with caffeine, is shown to not only fight against Parkinson’s Disease but also other neurological illnesses.
Scientists from the US set out to test this theory in 2018 using Parkinson’s Disease model mice. They separated the mice into 3 groups that are given a different combination of EHT and caffeine (either caffeine only, EHT only, or both together).
After conducting several tests to analyse and study their movement, the mice which were treated with only EHT or caffeine only showed minimal or no improvements in their conditions. They experienced increased inflammation and neuron loss, limited motoric capabilities, as well as significant amounts of alpha – synuclein (which causes Parkinson’s Disease).
On the other hand, mice that were treated with both caffeine and EHT showed significant recoveries in all of these measures. They had less brain inflammation, fewer movement symptoms, lower alpha – synuclein levels, and better neuron functionality.
This study has made scientists hopeful that the number of people developing Parkinson’s Disease can be lowered by promoting the consumption of coffee. So if you want to make sure you avoid neurodegeneration in old age, it is best you start drinking coffee everyday!