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Drinking Coffee May Help Decrease The Risk Of Neurodegenerative Disease

Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Image by Martí Sans / Stocksy

As if we needed another reason to reach for our coffee machine each morning, the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) has just given us one.

What did they report?

Drinking coffee may help decrease your risk of neurodegenerative diseases, according to this new report from the ISIC. Drawing previous research together into a comprehensive report on the effects of coffee consumption on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, they concluded that it may be able to decrease risks of these neurodegenerative diseases.

The report, which was authored by Elisabet Rothenberg, R.D., Ph.D., also considers a collection of previous research to investigate the effect of diet on risks related to neurodegenerative disorders, specifically the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer's specifically.

The research indicates that regularly drinking coffee can not only reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases but that it can help relieve symptoms in some cases. The studies have focused on "moderate coffee consumption," which is defined as three to five cups a day by the European Food Safety Authority (the FDA considers four to five cups1 the upper end of safe coffee drinking).

Men have been shown to be more likely to benefit from the effects of coffee consumption on Parkinson's. Consuming coffee after the onset of the disease has also been linked to improved motor activity.

Before this report, research has only speculated about how coffee consumption affects these diseases. It has been theorized that caffeine and other compounds found in coffee may protect against some of the damage from inflammation as the diseases progress but also can help promote brain health overall.

Why does it matter?

The term neurodegenerative diseases refers to a wide range of diseases, but some of the big ones are Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease, among others. They involve the progressive deterioration of nerve cells, and while there are some therapies, there are no true curative treatments.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.8 million Americans are living with the disease, while the Parkinson's Foundation estimates that each year 60,000 are diagnosed with the disease.

Lifestyle choices are a major area of research in treating degenerative disease. While research has connected drinking coffee to decreased risks for neurodegenerative diseases, this new report calls for more work studying its effects.

What's next for research?

This report provides a start to compiling comprehensive information on the benefits of coffee consumption for staving off risks of neurodegenerative diseases. Rothenberg acknowledges that further work is required to understand how and why coffee seems to help and to be able to say conclusively that it does.

As the number of people with diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is projected to increase with an aging population, research into opportunities for delaying, preventing, and alleviating symptoms of these diseases is even more important. 

While we continue to search for answers and strategies for combating disease, there are still many ways you can promote healthy aging now and better prevent the onset of illnesses. Although upping your coffee intake in the name of health sounds ideal (especially during that 3 p.m. slump), prevention is still everything—it's important to optimize your health before symptoms even arise.


Eliza Sullivan author page.
Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine,, and SUITCASE magazine.