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How Does Caffeine Affect Memory & Alzheimer’s? What Science Says

a woman making a cup of coffee

If you are a heavy coffee drinker, you will likely be glad to learn that some studies show that consuming coffee can help improve brain function. However many people want to know how caffeine affects Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and its effect on the brain and memory. Keep reading while we look at the benefits and possible dangers of consuming caffeine.

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What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a mild stimulant found in coffee, but it is also present in many other items, including tea, energy drinks, and chocolate. It occurs naturally in more than 60 plants besides coffee and tea, and there is even synthetic caffeine that you can find in certain medications.

pour over coffee
Image Credit: subarasikiai, Pixabay

Negative Effects of Caffeine on the Body

Since caffeine is a mild stimulant, it gives many people the energy that they need to start their day. However, there are downsides to drinking it. For example, caffeine is also a diuretic and can cause you to take more frequent trips to the bathroom. It can also cause your stomach to release more acid, leading to discomfort from an upset stomach or heartburn. It can also increase your blood pressure and may even interfere with calcium absorption.

What If I Drink Too Much Caffeine?

Drinking too much caffeine at one time can lead to a caffeine overdose. Early signs of a caffeine overdose can include jitters and restlessness. The user may also feel anxious or develop a headache. More extreme cases of withdrawal can include vomiting, an increased heart rate, and high blood pressure.

cropped woman holding a cup of coffee and saucer
Image Credit: Anna Nekrashevich, Pexels

Does Caffeine Improve Memory?

Some studies showed that consuming caffeine helped improve memory, while other studies saw no difference between people who drank it and those who didn’t.

Johns Hopkins

One study conducted by Johns Hopkins suggests that caffeine does indeed help improve the memory of those who consume it. This study gave half of the participants a placebo and the other half a 200-milligram (mg) dose of coffee. It was found that people who ingested the caffeine were better able to distinguish images from similar ones than those who drank the placebo. It suggests that caffeine boosts the brain’s ability for pattern separation, which helps determine the difference between similar images.

Journal of Science and Medicine

A study by the Journal of Science and Medicine was unable to find a direct connection between caffeine consumption and memory. In this study, people with varying amounts of caffeine in their system completed a survey, a memory test, and a reflex test to see if there was any difference in performance. The researchers could not find a clear connection.

a cup of coffee in New Zealand
Image Credit: Niklas Ohlrogge, Unsplash

Caffeine and Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is one area of research that includes caffeine, as some studies show that it can have positive effects. Consuming caffeine may help reduce inflammation around the brain. It may also help prevent the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques. Scientists believe that both these issues can contribute significantly to the development of Alzheimer’s.

What Other Issues Might Caffeine Help With?

Besides giving you the energy that you need to tackle your day, improving memory, and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, caffeine may be able to help in other ways. For example, some studies show that caffeine can help with Parkinson’s disease. It can also help you feel more alert and can work to suppress hunger, so it might help you lose weight. It can also help protect your liver and colon and help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

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Studies show real promise in caffeine’s ability to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing inflammation and plaque buildup. Studies also show promise for people with Parkinson’s disease, and it may even boost memory, particularly when trying to discern the difference between similar images. Of course, we don’t need studies to tell us that it boosts energy, as many of us find it difficult to start the day without it!

Featured Image Credit: Chevanon Photography, Pexels


Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker, a veteran writer, has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming, and of course, coffee. He drinks a lot of it when he writes, making him an expert indeed. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.

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