Excess Coffee: A Bitter Brew for Brain Health

It’s a favourite first-order for the day, but while a quick coffee may perk us up, new research from the University of South Australia shows that too much could be dragging us down, especially when it comes to brain health.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers have found that high coffee consumption is associated with smaller total brain volumes and an increased risk of dementia.

Conducted at UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health at SAHMRI and a team of international researchers, the study assessed the effects of coffee on the brain among 17,702 UK Biobank participants (aged 37-73), finding that those who drank more than six cups of coffee a day had a 53 per cent increased risk of dementia.

Lead researcher and UniSA PhD candidate, Kitty Pham, says the research delivers important insights for public health.

“Coffee is among the most popular drinks in the world. Yet with global consumption being more than nine billion kilograms a year, it’s critical that we understand any potential health implications,” Pham says.

“This is the most extensive investigation into the connections between coffee, brain volume measurements, the risks of dementia, and the risks of stroke – it’s also the largest study to consider volumetric brain imaging data and a wide range of confounding factors.

“Accounting for all possible permutations, we consistently found that higher coffee consumption was significantly associated with reduced brain volume – essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee a day may be putting you at risk of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke.”

Dementia is a degenerative brain condition that affects memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. About 50 million people are diagnosed with the syndrome worldwide. In Australia, dementia is the second leading cause of death, with an estimated 250 people diagnosed each day.

Stroke is a condition where the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, resulting in oxygen starvation, brain damage and loss of function. Globally, one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime. Data suggests that 13.7 million people will have a stroke this year with 5.5 million dying as a result.

Senior investigator and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hyppönen, says while the news may be a bitter brew for coffee lovers, it’s all about finding a balance between what you drink and what’s good for your health.

“This research provides vital insights about heavy coffee consumption and brain health, but as with many things in life, moderation is the key,” Prof Hyppönen says.

“Together with other genetic evidence and a randomised controlled trial, these data strongly suggest that high coffee consumption can adversely affect brain health. While the exact mechanisms are not known, one simple thing we can do is to keep hydrated and remember to drink a bit of water alongside that cup of coffee.

“Typical daily coffee consumption is somewhere between one and two standard cups of coffee. Of course, while unit measures can vary, a couple of cups of coffee a day is generally fine.

“However, if you’re finding that your coffee consumption is heading up toward more than six cups a day, it’s about time you rethink your next drink.”

Source: University of South Australia

What’s for Lunch?

Grilled Pork Bento of Ministop (ミニストップ) in Tokyo, Japan

The price is 599 yen (tax included).

Exercise Boosts Survival for People With Implanted Defibrillators

Just small amounts of exercise can benefit people with implanted heart defibrillators, new research shows.

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a battery-powered device placed under the skin to detect abnormal heart rhythms and deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat.

The new study found that even slight increases in physical activity reduced the risk of hospitalization and early death after patients got an ICD. And that was true even if their fitness boost wasn’t from a formal rehabilitation program, according to findings published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

“Cardiac rehabilitation programs offer patients a safe environment to increase physical activity after ICD implantation,” said study author Dr. Brett Atwater, director of electrophysiology at the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute in Fairfax, Va.

“Evidence has also shown cardiac rehab lessens the risk of additional hospitalization and death, but cardiac rehabilitation programs are underutilized, especially among women, the elderly, people from diverse racial and ethnic groups and those living in rural areas,” he said in a journal news release.

Atwater and his team examined data on nearly 42,000 Medicare patients (average age: 75) who got ICDs between 2014 and 2016.

Of those, 3% took part in a heart rehab program. During rehab, their physical activity rose by nearly 10 minutes a daily, compared to a minute-a-day drop off among patients not in rehab.

Those in a rehab program were 24% less likely to die within three years of getting their ICD than patients who were not in rehab.

The study also linked every 10 minutes of increased daily activity to a 1.1% reduction in death from all causes during that time span — whether patients were in a formal rehab program or not.

“Our study examined whether physical activity outside of a formal cardiac rehabilitation program could yield similar benefits, and we found it did,” Atwater said. “This suggests that additional options like home-based cardiac rehabilitation might help more patients realize the health benefits of increased physical activity.”

Source: HealthDay

Vietnamese Shau Mai

Ingredients

300 g ground pork
150 g shell-removed shrimp, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped green onion

Seasoning

1 egg white
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp water
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch

Sauce

1/2 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

Method

  1. Mix pork and shrimp with the seasoning ingredients. Stir to mix thoroughly until sticky. Add garlic and green onion. Mix well.
  2. Form the mixture into 8 meatballs. Place meatballs on a heat-proof plate.
  3. Steam meatballs over high heat for 10 minutes until done.
  4. Add sauce ingredients to a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until thickens.
  5. Pour sauce over meatballs. Serve with bread rolls.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Source: Vietnamese Cuisine


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