Volume 1, Issue 9
November 6, 2008

To protect your memory,
drink less of this...

Health practitioners keep making the same mistake.ÿ They assume that just because something is harmful when taken in large amounts it is also harmful in small amounts — just less harmful.

Take coffee, for instance. In high enough doses, coffee definitely has adverse effects. It can interfere withÿ liver function and cause heart burn. It can interrupt the sleep cycle and lead to insomnia. It can cause anxiety. It can raise blood pressure and heart rate. I have even seen it causeÿ the irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. So doctors tell people to avoid coffee. Big mistake.

Moderate coffee intake has a very different effect. Studies show that the risk for type-2 diabetes is lower among regular coffee drinkers than among those who don't drink it. Coffee also reduces the risk of developing gallstones, discourages the development of colon cancer, reduces the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease, and reduces the risk of Parkinson's disease. Coffee has also been shown to improve endurance performance in athletes.

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And now, there's evidence that moderate coffee consumption can improve brain function.

A recent French study looked at the effects of coffee on brain function in more than 7,000 women and men. All were dementia-free at the start of the study. The researchers evaluated their brain function with a series of tests that examined their memory and recall. They evaluated the participants at the start of the study and then two and four years later.

What they found was that women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day were 30% less likely to have memory decline at age 65 than whose who drank one cup or less daily. And the benefit increased with age. Women over age 80 who drank three or more cups of coffee a day were about 70% less likely to have memory decline than those who drank one cup or less.

While this study didn't find a similar protective effect in men, other studies have. For instance, a study published the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 676 healthy men. It found that regular coffee drinkers had a lower rate of brain function decline over a 10-year follow-up than those who didn't drink coffee. What's more, the more coffee these men drank (up to a maximum of three cups a day), the better their mental function was. Those who drank three cups daily had the least signs of decline, 400% less than those who did not drink coffee at all.

So the next time you go to have a cup of coffee or tea (tea contains about half as much caffeine as coffee) just remember this: As long as you limit your intake, it will not only give you much more pep and energy, but it will also help you remember who you are and what the date is even when you are very old. Personally, I think three cups is too much, as it can adversely affect other parts of your body. I'll explain this in detail in an upcoming issue of Real Cures. I tell my patients to keep their coffee intake to 12 ounces or less. I suggest you do the same.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD



Kathleen Doheny. Memory Slow? Drink Some Joe. HealthDay News. Posted: 2007-08-06 16:07:01


van Gelder BM, Buijsse B, Tijhuis M., et al. Coffee consumption is inversely associated with cognitive decline in elderly European men: the FINE Study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 226-232.

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