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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Coffee and Brains

Whenever there is an article written about coffee (at least in the NYTimes), I seem to find it.  It could be that I have a subconscious gravitation to the word coffee and any news about it, or it could just be that it popped out at me as the title of the article was "This is Your Brain on Coffee".  Whatever the reason for my spotting the article this morning, I read it, and as it turns out, the title of the article is actually a positive.  It turns out that my excessive coffee drinking will most likely yield some health benefits in the long run.  While there have been many studies done over the years on the effects of coffee, both positive and negative, this one article takes the cake for revealing some of the most important positive effects of coffee that are currently being discovered.  I know, the naysayers of excessive coffee drinking say it is bad for the heart, it dehydrates you, blah, blah, blah.  Well, I drink my coffee black, the best way to drink it, with no sugar or milk.   There was a study done over the course of 13 years with 400,000 participants aged 50-71 (or something like that).  Over the 13 years, 50,000 people passed away who were in the study.  Of those that passed away, men who drank coffee were 10% less likely to die and women who drank coffee were 13% less likely to die than those men and women who didn't.  That right there is enough to keep me drinking coffee for the rest of my life.  Yet that's not the only study done, and by far not the only benefit of drinking coffee to be found.  A different study found that moderate coffee drinkers were less likely to develop the following types of cancer and diseases:  Type II diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer), prostate cancer, oral cancer, and breast cancer recurrence.  Yup, even more reason to keep the steady flow of coffee flowing into my body for the rest of my life.  But wait, there's more.  There are now being links drawn between coffee and prevention and slowing of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  It is believed that coffee, in part, prevents the degeneration of brain cells by preventing a certain chemical from going haywire.  (Read the article for the specifics).  Yet, it isn't just the caffeine in coffee that has the effect as regular caffeine was attempted versus coffee and it did not have the same effects. 
Speaking of dementia, I wonder if drinking coffee would have helped my grandmother, Baba, stave off her dementia.  At this point, there is nothing we could do but speculate, however, it is interesting to think about.  Baba was never a coffee drinker to my knowledge, she always preferred her tea.  Whenever you hear news about some benefit related to an illness a loved one is going through, you always jump to conclusions.  "If she had only drank a few cups of coffee a day."  We can always look back and see how others could have lived their lives differently in hopes that something could have been different.  Yet that's not how life goes.  We don't get to go back and make changes for our loved ones so things could be different now.  We must simply deal with what we have in front of us, enjoy the moments presented to us, and hope for the best outcome possible for those affected by any disease.  At this point, unfortunately, it seems as if Baba is drifting downhill.  According to my mother, Baba has been refusing to eat for the past couple of days.  She says she is full and can't possibly eat anything.  After a few days without food, it is starting to show in Baba's face, her eyes becoming a little more sunken in, her face a little more taught.  I haven't seen her in a couple of weeks, but I will be making my way down there this afternoon to visit and see if I can't convince her to eat something.  I know its probably a long shot at getting her to eat, but anything is worth a shot.  At least she is drinking water still.  It makes me wonder what her mind is doing to her.  Is some signal getting mixed up in her mind where she thinks she is full despite the fact that she isn't?  Nobody knows and any guess is just a shot in the dark.  The good news is that her caregivers at her "home" don't believe in force feeding anyone.  Even if they tried, she would fight tooth and nail against it.  So in a way, the fact that she is in some sort of control over her life, even if it is her desire not to eat, is comforting.  I try not to fear the worst at this point, but when someone stops eating, it is never a good thing.  My wife's aunt went through a similar situation with dementia and one of the last things she did was refuse to eat.  Lack of nutrients in the body will only lead even quicker to an inevitable outcome that I don't care to think about right now.  Maybe if she had only had coffee her whole life...

But for now, I must put things aside and focus on my day, my coffee that I am drinking right now, and what I have to do.  It will be a shorter work day for me as I have to take our son to his checkup with our doctor, nothing wrong, just his periodic check up.  And best of all, no shots of any kind.  I will definitely need some extra coffee to get through today.  It seems like I have been doing too much lately and need extra coffee to stave off the tired feeling that creeps in from the corner or my eyes, begging me to lay down and close them, if only for 20 minutes.  Well, I don't have twenty minutes for a nap, so I will just have another cup of black coffee, get the juices flowing, and get through my day the best I can.  At this point, I think I am done writing so till tomorrow, perhaps, or Monday, more likely, I will sign off and talk to everyone later.  Adios amigos, and as always, carpe diem!

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