A new report published by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) has found that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day could reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer's Disease by 20%.
The researchers found that two compounds in coffee, namely caffeine and polyphenols, are able to prevent the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrulary tangles in the brain – two significant causes of memory loss.
Caffeine and polyphenols are also able to reduce inflammation and decrease the deterioration of brain cells, particularly in the hippocampus and cortex, the parts of the brain associated with memory.
Alzheimer's affects one in 20 people over the age of 65, which currently amounts to 26 million people worldwide, and scientists fear that as more people live past that age, the risk of developing dementia will grow.
According to the Alzheimer's Society, by 2051, there will be at least two million people suffering from the condition in the UK alone. Dementia currently costs the UK economy over £26bn per year.
A Mediterranean diet can also help
The report is based on ISIC's final conclusions from research highlighted at the 24th Annual Conference of Alzheimer Europe which took place in Glasgow from 20-22 October.
"The majority of human epidemiological studies suggest that regular coffee consumption over a lifetime is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, with an optimum protective effect occurring with three to five cups of coffee per day," said Dr Arfram Ikram, an assistant professor in neuroepidemiology at Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam who presented his findings at the symposium.
The report also highlights the fact that nutrition is very important in preserving cognitive function before symptoms of dementia occur.
A Mediterranean diet rich in fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and red wine has also been associated with reducing an individual's risk of developing Alzheimer's, due to the polyphenols present in these foods.
"The findings presented in this report are very encouraging and help to develop our understanding of the role nutrition can play in protecting against Alzheimer's Disease," said Dr Iva Holmerova, vice chairperson of Alzheimer Europe.
"Coffee is a very popular beverage enjoyed by millions of people around the world and I'm pleased to know that moderate, lifelong consumption can have a beneficial effect on the development of Alzheimer's Disease."
More clinical trial and research needed
However, there's no need to rush to increase your coffee intake just yet.
Jess Smith, Research Officer at the care and research charity Alzheimer's Society, says that the research is not as yet conclusive, and the ISIC has confirmed to IBTimes UK that Ikram's paper is still at the publication stage, so it is early days.
Smith told IBTimes UK: "The evidence is not conclusive that drinking coffee will help to protect against Alzheimer's disease. Some research suggests that caffeine and antioxidants in coffee may be beneficial but studies in people show mixed results - more research and clinical trials are needed to see if positive effects occur in people over the long term.
"There is no single way to reduce your risk of dementia. Exercising frequently, as well as eating a healthy balanced diet, avoiding smoking, not drinking in excess, and managing other health conditions can play a role in reducing your risk of dementia."