If you can't live without your morning cup of coffee, you might be on to something really good.
According to a study from Indiana University, caffeine may boost an enzyme in the brain shown to protect against dementia.
In the IU study released earlier this spring, researchers identified 24 compounds that can increase the brain's production of an enzyme that could help protect it against diseases like Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
When examining the effects on lab mice, scientists discovered the strongest impression found in the enzyme came from caffeine. Known as "NMNAT2," the enzyme demonstrated that it had a protective effect on the brain, while guarding neurons from stress.
Moreover, it works as a "chaperone" when it fights against misfolded proteins, known as "tau,' which form age-related plaques. These proteins are related to a host of neurogenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's as well as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS.
One of the professors, Dr. Hui-Chen Lu told Scientific Reports that this discovery could help advance efforts to develop drugs that increase levels of this enzyme in the brain and create a blockade against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disorders.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. Also known as "senile dementia," it is known to affect more than 5.5 million people in the U.S. every year.