What’s the Real Deal with Coffee & Your Brain?

Walk past a coffee shop in any city throughout the U.S. and it’s apparent that we have an unbridled love for coffee. Why shouldn’t we? It’s delicious, it’s stimulating, and it’s beneficial to our health. A cup (or two) of coffee a day may even result in a healthier you. From a better heart to a boost in cognitive health as well as lowering the risk of certain cancers and diabetes, coffee seems to be nature’s wonder drug. However, in true fashion of all things related to health, scientific evidence surrounding the things that are “good for us” can also get a bad reputation.

What Does Coffee Actually Do To Your Brain?

When we pour our first cup of coffee in the morning, just the smell can make us feel more awake and many coffee lovers won’t even attempt doing anything before having their first cup. Whether you are a veteran coffee drinker or are trying it for the first time, coffee does have an affect on your brain and the results are different with each individual. While some people don’t feel awake until they’ve had at least 2 cups, others feel “buzzed” and ready for the day after just half a cup. One cup of coffee (about 75 mg of caffeine) will affect your brain and may:

  • Improve performance of people under 40 who may be sleep deprived
  • Improve memory performance particularly with tedious tasks
  • Trick an individual to be “dependent or addicted” to coffee, but it’s habitual (not addiction)
  • Negatively affect sleep, particularly if consumed later in the day
  • Decrease developing Parkinson’s Disease

Drink More? Drink Less?

Each time coffee is mentioned as a preventive or treatment for another health issue, coffee lovers everywhere sigh in relief and until recently, coffee seemed to be the ticket in preventing Alzheimer’s. Recently, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s, a study (Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging and were ages 65 to 84-years-old) reveals that a significant increase of coffee consumption can actually increase  the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is the precursor to Alzheimer’s and dementia; previous studies revealed that one to two cups of coffee a day could decrease the risk. Participants in the study that were not regular coffee drinkers or increased their consumption by about a another cup were at greatest risk of developing MCI.


So, as coffee drinkers, what do we do? Do we need to stop coffee drinking all together in fear of memory loss related issues? Like everything, moderation seems to be the key. If you have been drinking a cup or two a day consistently, you are most likely reaping the optimum health benefits. If you are an older adult or know an older adult over the age of 65, it may be wise to stay away from coffee if you’re not a regular coffee drinker. Additionally, just to be safe, stick with the amount you’ve been drinking and don’t increase your daily intake. Take a sip and continue to enjoy the health benefits.

Author: Joan Evans

Joan Evans is a mental health specialist and has a great interest in personality disorders. In her spare time she likes to go to the woods with her golden retriever, Leroy, and write fiction.

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