Alzheimers Research UK explain 'what is dementia?'
If you prefer to have a small and quick shot of coffee instead of an elaborate sugary drink with various add-ons, your brain might thank you.
New research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggests that compounds found in a shot of espresso may help to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study showed that a shot of coffee can inhibit a process believed to be involved in the onset of the mind-robbing condition.
While the exact mechanisms that trigger Alzheimer’s disease are still unclear, experts believe that a protein called tau plays a key role.
This protein can help stabilise structures in the brain of healthy people, but it can also clump together into thread-like structures called fibrils, spelling trouble.
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Fortunately, some researchers think that preventing this formation could alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or even prevent it from developing.
Mariapina D’Onofrio, a biologist from the University of Verona, Italy, said: “Espresso coffee is among the best-known beverages worldwide, and drinking espresso has become a habit in many countries due to its pleasant taste.
“Recent studies show that when consumed in moderation, this drink could have beneficial effects on human health thanks to its biological properties.
“In particular, numerous studies report that moderate and, sometimes, even high coffee consumption exerts a neuroprotective effect against two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases – Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”
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To put this theory to a test, the research team tested espresso shots against a shortened form of the tau protein in a lab for up to 40 hours.
The researchers noticed the tau fibrils stayed shorter and did not form larger tangles when the concentration of the espresso extract increased.
What’s more, these shortened fibrils were found to be non-toxic to human cells.
The research team explained many of coffee’s ingredients, such as caffeine and genistein, can cross the barrier between blood and the brain to deliver protective effects.
The researchers added: “Here, we show that aggregation of the tau protein is modulated by espresso coffee extract and some of its components.
“Based on the bioavailability of coffee components in the brain, and on the results of our study, we expect that moderate coffee consumption may provide a sufficient amount of bioactive molecules to act… as modulators of tau protein aggregation and toxicity.
“In conclusion, we presented a large body of evidence that espresso coffee, a widely consumed beverage, is a source of natural compounds showing beneficial properties in ameliorating tau-related pathologies.”
While the team now think their findings could pave the way for finding or designing treatments for the disease, more research is currently needed.
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