Elderly people who enjoy a cup or two of coffee every day experience benefits to their cognitive skills compared to those who do not regularly drink the beverage, according to a new study conducted by researchers in Italy.

A team of scientists at the University of Bari studied data collected from 1,445 individuals, between 65 to 84 years old, as part of the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging (ILSA).

They discovered that participants who drink one to two cups of coffee daily had significantly lower mild cognitive impairment (MCI) rates compared to people who rarely had a drink of coffee. Those who regularly drank more and more cups of coffee over time, on the other hand, experienced increased MCI rates.

Researchers Francesco Panza and Vincenzo Solfrizzi said that these results suggest that cognitively normal older people who very rarely drink coffee and those who increased their regular intake of coffee are more susceptible to developing symptoms of mild cognitive impairment.

They explained that regular consumption of coffee in moderation may provide neuroprotective benefits to an individual. The findings support earlier research that showed the protective effects of drinking tea and coffee.

Panza and Solfrizzi added that the study also confirms the previous assumptions that the consumption of caffeine can help protect people from dementia and cognitive decline.

The neuroprotective features of coffee can be traced to its ability to activate the adenosine A2A receptors (A2ARs) of the brain, which helps mitigate the damaged caused by the Alzheimer's disease-causing beta-amyloid.

By testing the effects of caffeine on laboratory mice, researchers have discovered that moderate consumption of the substance can enhance the memory of an individual, while too much drinking of coffee can result in jitters and even memory impairment.

Regular drinking of coffee has also been linked to a reduction in type 2 diabetes risk, which is one of the factors that could lead to the decline in cognitive skills.

Researchers have also found that coffee helps make the brain more attentive and focused, allowing the organ to perform various mental exercises more easily.

Panza and Solfrizzi hope that further studies on the subject will be conducted in order to explore measures that could be made to prevent the development of mental impairments such as Alzheimer's disease.

The University of Bari is featured in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Photo: Camila Tamara Silva Sepúlveda | Flickr 

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