Let me introduce you to Giorgio – Giorgio Gaggia that is. As anyone knows, who has visited Foods Matter or been a judge for the Freefrom Food Awards, Giorgio is on duty from 9.30am every morning ready to supply us all with reviving and enlivening espressos, machiatos, Americanos, capucchinos or any other combination (even down to a ‘plan white’) that anyone requests.
We all feel that, no matter how much muttering may go on about the negative effects of caffeine, an injection of same is an essential part of the morning – but it is always nice to come across new research to suggest that not only does it taste good but that it is actually doing something for us!
So I was happy to pick, somewhere in my John Scott-guided research wanderings, this nice little piece from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Volume 16, Number 1, January 2009….
Marjo H. Eskelinen, Tiia Ngandu, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Hilkka Soininen, Miia Kivipelto
Midlife Coffee and Tea Drinking and the Risk of Late-Life Dementia: A Population-Based CAIDE Study
Abstract: Caffeine stimulates central nervous system on a short term. However, the long-term impact of caffeine on cognition remains unclear. We aimed to study the association between coffee and/or tea consumption at midlife and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk in late-life. Participants of theCardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) study were randomly selected from the survivors of a population-based cohorts previously surveyed within the North Karelia Project and the FINMONICA study in 1972, 1977, 1982 or 1987 (midlife visit).
After an average follow-up of 21 years, 1409 individuals (71%) aged 65 to 79 completed the re-examination in 1998. A total of 61 cases were identified as demented (48 with AD). Coffee drinkers at midlife had lower risk of dementia and AD later in life compared with those drinking no or only little coffee adjusted for demographic, lifestyle and vascular factors, apolipoprotein E ε4 allele and depressive symptoms. The lowest risk (65% decreased) was found in people who drank 3-5 cups per day. Tea drinking was relatively uncommon and was not associated with dementia/AD. Coffee drinking at midlife is associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD later in life. This finding might open possibilities for prevention of dementia/AD.
However, while on the subject of coffee – and because I always try to find at least a tenuous link to allergy to slip into each blog – I had a little trawl around Google on the subject of both allergy to coffee/caffeine and whether coffee/caffein might be any help in the management of allergy.
I did not find much on caffeine allergy apart from a lengthy and heavily referenced article on About.com by medical laboratory technician, Ruth Whalen. This focuses on the psychological effects of caffeine allergy rather than any physiological effects, suggesting that caffeine allergy may result in delusion, mimic symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and panic and be misdiagnosed as a bipolar condition. She suggests that withdrawal symptoms (which will be similar to those suffered on withdrawal from amphetamines) may last up to twelve months with the mental symptoms taking even longer to resolve.
Quoting a paper by McManamy and Schube as far back as 1936, she also suggests that caffeine allergy may be far more common than is realised and may be responsible for many of the 21st century’s growing behavioural problems. She also suggests that resulting physical ailments will ‘resemble amphetamine poisoning, and include drug eruptions, masquerading as rosacea.’
In terms of helping to manage allergy, there is some evidence that caffeine reduces the release of histamine from mast cells, thereby reducing the severity of an allergic reaction. Researchers at Wongkwang University in South Korea, in research quoted in an article on the BBC and, apparently in the New Scientist, but which I have been unbale to track down elsewhere, claimed that they were able to able to prevent anaphylactic shock in rats with an infusion of strong coffee. However, most other research (see these links on Google Scholar) suggest that its effect is quite limited.
But then, as Tesco keep telling us, every little helps…. Enjoy your coffee!