Diabetes Self-Management Blog

In the past, we have explored the somewhat complicated relationship between coffee and diabetes, ranging from the apparent protective effect of the beverage against Type 2 diabetes and stroke to its possible negative effects on blood glucose control. Now preliminary research conducted in mice adds another piece to the puzzle: A recent study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience indicates that decaffeinated coffee may help improve the metabolism of glucose in the brain, potentially enhancing memory function in people with Type 2.

Studies have linked coffee consumption with a reduced risk of both Alzheimer and non-Alzheimer dementia, as well as with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes (which is itself a risk factor for Alzheimer disease). Because caffeine can increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions, including elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center sought to determine whether decaffeinated coffee would have similar cognitive benefits to regular coffee.

Over five months, the scientists gave mice with diet-induced diabetes a decaffeinated coffee supplement. At the end of this period, they assessed the brains of the mice and discovered that the brain cells could metabolize glucose to use for energy more effectively — a significant finding, because neurocognitive problems in people with Type 2 diabetes are often the result of reduced glucose utilization in the brain. According to lead study author Giulio Maria Pasinetti, MD, PhD, the results also show that not all of the health benefits associated with coffee are due to caffeine.

Pasinetti further notes that “Impaired energy metabolism in the brain is known to be tightly correlated with cognitive decline during aging and in subjects at high risk for developing neurodegenerative disorders. This is the first evidence showing the potential benefits of decaffeinated coffee preparations for both preventing and treating cognitive decline caused by Type 2 diabetes, aging, and/or neurodegenerative disorders.”

Dr. Pasinetti next hopes to study the potentially protective role of supplemental decaffeinated coffee in humans.

For more information, read the article “Decaffeinated Coffee May Help Improve Memory Function and Reduce Risk of Diabetes” or see the study’s abstract in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.

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