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Drinking Coffee and Tea May Help Prevent Two Leading Diseases, New Science Says

This simple dietary addition can slash your risk of serious illness.

As the old saying goes, one ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, it's much easier to proactively take care of your body now than it would be to battle serious health problems in the future. In particular, recent studies suggest the simple intervention of drinking coffee and tea could protect your future health by preventing two leading neurodegenerative diseases. Read on to find out how these beverages can help you lower your risk of these illnesses.

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Drinking coffee and tea may reduce your risk of Parkinson's disease.

Handsome business colleagues or college students work together using laptop, startup project meeting or teamwork brainstorm concept, at coffee shop or modern office

According to a recent study published in The Lancet Regional Health—Western Pacific, regularly drinking caffeinated coffee and tea could help reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease (PD) in Asian individuals with certain Asian-specific gene variants. The study looked at the LRRK2 gene in particular, which is associated with a doubled risk of PD.

The results were stark. The researchers found that people with this gene variant who consumed those beverages saw a risk reduction of four to eight times, compared to people with the same gene variant who did not consume caffeine.

Experts say that in addition to reducing one's likelihood of developing PD, drinking caffeinated beverages can also reduce the severity of symptoms in people who have already been diagnosed. Common symptoms of Parkinson's disease include stiffness, slowness, tremor, changes in mood or memory, pain, sleep disturbances, and more.

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Other studies suggest benefits in broader populations.

couple in living room drinking coffee or tea

Nancy Mitchell, RN, a registered geriatric nurse and a contributing writer for Assisted Living, describes the new research as a "game changer for part of the Asian population." She also notes that more research is needed to determine whether drinking coffee and tea improves outcomes for people with PD-related gene variants among other ethnic groups.

However, other research does appear to corroborate the broader neuroprotective benefits of drinking coffee and tea in diverse populations. In particular, a 2020 meta-analysis study published in the journal Nutrients determined that "caffeine modified disease risk and progression in PD, among both healthy individuals or those with PD."

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Coffee and tea may also reduce your risk of dementia.

Older Woman Drinking Tea and Looking Refreshed
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Separate studies suggest that drinking caffeinated coffee and tea can also reduce your risk of another leading neurodegenerative illness: dementia.

In particular, a recent study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews looked at data from 33 studies involving 389,505 participants. The researchers found that those who regularly drink coffee and tea are "27 percent and 32 percent less likely, respectively, to develop cognitive disorders compared to those who don't."

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Here's why it may help.

Cropped shot of a handsome young man relaxing with a cup of coffee

Experts say there are several reasons that coffee and tea might benefit your cognitive health.

"Coffee is a beverage that contains caffeine and antioxidants, both of which have been proven to possess neuroprotective properties," explains Krutika Nanavati, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and a medical advisor at Clinicspots. "Coffee consumption has been linked to enhanced cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, and processing skills. It stimulates the central nervous system, promotes alertness, and reduces the perception of fatigue."

Nanavati adds that tea—especially green tea—contains polyphenols and catechins, bioactive compounds with robust antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals that support optimal brain function, she says.

"These substances have been demonstrated to alleviate neurodegenerative processes and boost cognitive function. Incorporating tea into your regular diet may potentially slow down the onset of cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," she notes.

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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