Caffeine is an alkaloid produced by several plants. It is in the coffee most Americans drink every morning. Lesser quantities are also in black tea, colas and chocolate.
Belief: Drinking coffee delays dementia.
- Fact: True, but impractical. Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day may decrease the risk of dementia. Healthy people who drink this much coffee are less likely to progress into MCI, or may not progress as quickly as they otherwise would. Those who already have MCI will not progress into dementia as quickly either. Reference
- Concern: This much coffee per day may cause other health problems such as increased blood pressure and heartburn. It is a stimulant and when consumed too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep. It is also a diuretic which can interfere with hydration.
Quercetin. (kwer-se-ten) This nutrient is found in apples, onions, blueberries, red grapes, cranberries, green or black tea and red wine.
Belief: Quercetin improves cognition in persons with PD.
- Fact: Not yet proven. This member of the flavinoid family of plant-based compounds has recently been shown to have a cognitive enhancing effect on PD in rats. Reference.
- Concern: While this report is hopeful, much research is still needed to support the belief that Quercetin is useful for humans.
Green tea is made from the steamed and dried leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, native to Asia. It is available everywhere tea is sold.
Belief: Drinking green tea lowers the risk of dementia.
- Fact: True. Green tea protects brain cells from toxins and is associated with a significantly lower risk of cognitive impairment. Make it a part of your daily fluid intake. It contains quercetin, which may be why it is effective against dementia.
Belief: Drinking green tea calms you down and helps you concentrate.
- Fact: True. It contains the amino acid L-theanine, which calms and aids with concentration. Reference
Belief: Green tea contains some caffeine and is therefore a mild stimulant and diuretic.
- Fact: False. There is a small amount of caffeine in green tea but not enough to counteract the calming qualities of L-theranine. The amount of caffeine is also not enough to make green tea a diuretic. Therefore, it is as good as water for hydration. Reference.
Bottom line: Green tea is probably a better choice for a healthy beverage than coffee or black tea and caregivers should consider adding it to their loved one's meals. However, a moderate amount of either black tea or coffee is not likely to be particularly harmful, especially if drunk early in the day.