Caffeine can do more than make you more alert and give you a boost of energy — a new study by Indiana University supports previous research that the compound may also have the ability to help protect your brain from dementia.
Researchers found that caffeine was one of the compounds that targets the enzyme NMNAT2, which has the potential to preserve neural structure and function.
In the study, researchers had two groups of mice: regular mice and mice bred to produce lower levels of NMNAT2. Researchers then administered different levels of caffeine or saline to the mice. Results showed that the mice bred to produce lower levels of the enzyme ended up producing the same level of the enzyme as the regular mice.
“This work could help advance efforts to increase levels of this enzyme in the brain, creating a chemical ‘blockade’ against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disorders,” Dr. Hui-Chen Lu, lead author of the study and professor of biomolecular science at Indiana University, says.
This isn’t the first time the compound has been linked to protection against dementia and Alzheimer's — last year, a study found that consuming three to five cups of coffee a day can help prevent the disease.