Drinking Coffee and Tea May Lower the Risk of Stroke and Dementia
by Amelia Garrison
A growing body of research suggests that foods containing flavonoids, powerful antioxidant chemicals found in coffee and tea, provide numerous brain-boosting benefits.
The latest research
A recent study in the U.K. suggests that moderate consumption of coffee and tea may lower the risk of stroke and dementia. The study, which looked at a large pool of data, including the health information of nearly 400,000 U.K. residents, found that people who drank 2-3 cups of coffee or 3-5 cups of tea per day had the lowest likelihood of stroke or dementia. However, the study did not provide conclusive evidence that drinking coffee or tea reduces the risk of stroke or dementia.
While many studies have examined the relationship between coffee and tea and brain health, such as studying the connections between coffee intake and levels of amyloid – a protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease – no study has yet proven that coffee and tea reduce the risk of developing a neurologic disease.
A second look
This study is no different. Scott A. Kaiser, MD, Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health at Pacific Neuroscience Institute, explained why.
“This type of study—based upon a review, looking back at information collected from a large population—the investigators are not able to demonstrate direct “causality” but rather can identify important associations,” Dr. Kaiser explained. “While the study suggests that coffee and tea consumption might be protective against stroke and dementia, it does not prove that drinking coffee or tea actually caused this reduction in risk.”
However, a growing body of research does suggest that foods containing flavonoids, powerful antioxidant chemicals found in coffee and tea, provide numerous brain-boosting benefits.
While the study suggests that coffee and tea consumption might be protective against stroke and dementia, it does not prove that drinking coffee or tea actually caused this reduction risk.Dr. Scott A. Kaiser
Coffee and tea are derived from plants that contain potentially beneficial chemical compounds, known as flavonoids, said Dr. Kaiser. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that plants produce to keep themselves healthy. When consumed, flavonoids are neuroprotective – meaning they protect nerve cells against damage, degeneration, or impairment of function.
“Flavonoids can actually reduce inflammation in our brains, protect brain cells from injury, support learning and memory, and deliver other obvious benefits for brain health,” Dr. Kaiser said.
The dangers of sweeteners
However, these brain-boosting benefits can be counteracted when you load up your coffee or tea with refined sugar and sweeteners, Dr. Kaiser said.
“While there are many mechanisms by which coffee and tea may be protecting our brains, loading your cup up with lots of sugar and other sweeteners may have a counteractive, negative effect. An equally meaningful body of evidence suggests that refined sugars and artificial sweeteners actually increase stroke and dementia risk,” said Dr. Kaiser.
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About Dr. Scott Kaiser
Scott Kaiser, MD, a board-certified family physician and geriatrician, is the Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health, and provides specialty geriatric medical consultations at the Pacific Brain Health Center. Focused on the needs of older patients, he works with his colleagues to provide an integrated and holistic approach to their cognitive challenges. With this “whole person” approach, Dr. Kaiser works to connect patients and their families with a broad range of resources to support their overall health and well-being.
About the Author
Amelia Garrison is the Marketing Specialist at Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI). Well versed in community outreach strategy and implementation, she leads the PNI blog, newsletter, and digital communications. Amelia oversees PNI's reputation management and community sponsorships.
Last updated: January 18th, 2022