Booze, Fat, & Now Coffee Good For You

i-75fa6f7cebb4145668724f37f5a52b36-steve_icon_medium.jpg It's just about weekly that some scientist finds that one of our guilty pleasures is actually good for us. First it was red wine, then it was all alcohol. Followed by Omega-3 Fatty Acids - mmm.... fat.... And Now?! It's coffee. It doesn't just wake you up in the morning so you can avoid those pesky rush hour accidents with half drunk and asleep drivers. Now coffee is purported to protect us against dementias by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on our body.

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So go ahead eat those extra eggs and an entire package of bacon. You can just drink an entire pot of coffee to protect yourself against dementia.

Hmm... perhaps the way it protects you against dementia is by killing you well before you get to the age where dementia starts occurring. Next thing you know they'll be discovering that smoking is good for you.

Ok.. here's the real deal from BBC News:

A vital barrier between the brain and the main blood supply of rabbits fed a fat-rich diet was protected in those given a caffeine supplement.

UK experts said it was the "best evidence yet" of coffee's benefits.

Caffeine is a safe and readily available drug and its ability to stabilise the blood brain barrier means it could have an important part to play in therapies against neurological disorders
Dr Jonathan Geiger
University of North Dakota

The "blood brain barrier" is a filter which protects the central nervous system from potentially harmful chemicals carried around in the rest of the bloodstream.

Other studies have shown that high levels of cholesterol in the blood can make this barrier "leaky".

Alzheimer's researchers suggest this makes the brain vulnerable to damage which can trigger or contribute to the condition.

The University of North Dakota study used the equivalent to just one daily cup of coffee in their experiments on rabbits.

After 12 weeks of a high-cholesterol diet, the blood brain barrier in those given caffeine was far more intact than in those given no caffeine.

"Caffeine appears to block several of the disruptive effects of cholesterol that make the blood-brain barrier leaky," said Dr Jonathan Geiger, who led the study.

"High levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, perhaps by compromising the protective nature of the blood brain barrier. "

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Actually, I recall that around the time we were told we should be $#17ting ourselves over trace amounts of aluminum (which caused Alzheimer's) and mercury from our fillings, some tobacco company actually stood up and said that evidence indicated that smoking protected one from Alzheimer's (or was it dementia?--my mind is so unreliable since I quit ...).

It was a bright spot of comedy in an otherwise gloomy health-"news" season.

Here's the debunking.

And unfortunately for Big Tobacco, there was more bad news.

Steve, this is admittedly n=1, but after reading Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories I changed over to a low glycemic index (below 55), pretty high-fat diet. As well as eating lots of meat and fats, I'm not avoiding anything but modified fats, eg, eating actual butter instead of margarine, and I'm a bit of a coffee hound, usually drinking around 6 cups a day.

On the lipids front, pre-diet change and with Vytorin 10/40 daily, my total cholesterol was about 140 mg/dl; six months post the diet change, it's 104, and my lipid profile improved as well. So, don't take your extra eggs and bacon notion as a joke, it's actually working out for me at least.

Now, I also found out that I'm mildly insulin resistant, with an a1c of about 6 pct; it's entirely possible that these results are either just straight out atypical, or are specific to "metabolic syndrome". But they're sure interesting.

Taubes has become a bit of a zealot since he jumped on the high-protein bandwagon, and no doubt he has personally benefitted from it. I'm just not convinced that this approach works for EVERYONE... Personally, I find eating too much dairy and animal protein is detrimental to maintaining my weight, plus there's some "womanly issues" that such a diet exacerbates. So I primarily get my protein from fish, soy, and nuts, only occasionally having a bit of chicken, pork, beef or other meats. I also consume a good amount of caffeine which does NOT offset those times when I veer from my usual diet.

People are different: different genders, different genetic makeups, different habits and environments -- there's so many variables to consider, it's no wonder study after study offers seemingly contradictory findings.

"Moderation in all things" still holds true all these centuries later. :)

It's been shown that smokers do save Social Security money, by dying before they can collect it.

Hey smoking can be really beneficial if you can't stand other people being around you ;) Now excuse me while I go have my 5th double espresso of the day :D

excuse while I go deep fry another bacon wrapped twinkie

Or, is it the increased neural activity... post caffeine that stabilizes the blood brain barrier? I thought I remember some anecdotal studies that suggested there might be a link between staying mentally active, aging and Alzheimer's frequency.

ha! I just been told to stop drinking Caffeine. I am sleeping better.

You know I think that caffeine may cause Alzheimer's. I can't seem to concentrate when I drink the stuff and that is even in small amounts.

Caffeine is also good for exercise performance and yes I work out better at the gym after a cup of coffee... The Australian Institute of Sport team found that caffeine triggers the muscles to start using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrate sugars.
I never have more than 1 cup a day and that is in the morning... and if I don't have that coffee, I end up getting terrible headaches at about 11am! Well addiction really.