Moderate consumption of caffeine helps protects the brain against rogue proteins that destroy neurons, according to new research.scientists who have identified 24 compounds – including caffeine – that boost an enzyme known to reduce the risk of the brain disorder.
A study found regular, long term intake may reduce the risk of dementia by up to 27 per cent. It could also prevent other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.
The amount recommended is between three and five cups a day, said the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) report.
“Moderate coffee consumption could play a significant role in reducing cognitive decline which would impact health outcomes.”
Researchers from Indiana University in the US screened over 1,280 compounds of which a total of 24 compounds were identified as having potential to increase the production of NMNAT2 – an enzyme in the brain.
An earlier study had found that NMNAT2, plays two roles in the brain – a protective function to guard neurons from stress and a “chaperone function” to combat misfolded proteins called tau, which accumulate in the brain as “plaques” due to ageing
Misfolded proteins have been linked to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons and Huntingtons diseases, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease, researchers said.
“This work could help advance efforts to develop drugs that increase levels of this enzyme in the brain, creating a chemical blockade against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disorders,” said Hui-Chen Lu from Indianna University.
One of the substances shown to increase production of the enzyme was caffeine, which has also been shown to improve memory function in mice genetically modified to produce high levels of misfolded tau proteins.