Coffee on the Brain: The Impact of Coffee Intake on the Brain

Donald Wingard

This is Guest Blog #1 and is submitted by the intelligent and charismatic Katelyn Craine (IG - @beautifulshitshow) who can normally be found writing for on mental health and holistic healing.

Coffee has been a hallmark of American society for centuries. The drink gained popularity in the States after the Boston Tea Party, when it became patriotic for American citizens to ditch their British-imported tea for a caffeinated beverage that didn’t lend itself to the empowerment of the British empire. In the past hundred years, coffee has become a pseudo-sacred part of most American’s daily ritual. This drink has become so popular in American society that the scientific community has felt compelled to examine the effects of coffee on the adult brain. These studies have revealed that coffee can have a significant effect on the brain’s antioxidant system, dementia development, and tumor growth in the nervous system. 

The brain’s antioxidant system plays a vital role in brain protection. This system maintains and utilizes antioxidants to eliminate free radicals from the blood. Free radicals are atoms that are missing an electron in their valence shell. Going back to high school chemistry, all atoms want to have a complete set of electrons in their outermost shell (the valence shell). Free radicals are desperate to fill their half-empty shell with another electron. To complete this mission, these particles steal electrons from your body’s vital cell structures, causing cellular breakdown, which can lead to the development of cancer. The antioxidant system helps to break down these free radicals and keep them from causing harm to your body. Moderate to high coffee consumption has been shown to protect the brain’s antioxidant system (Abreu, 2011). By protecting this system, coffee plays a positive role in the elimination of free radicals and the protection of your brain. 

How much coffee does it take to have a positive impact on your brain? This amount will vary from person to person, but most studies have shown that as little as half a cup of coffee per day can be enough to produce positive health benefits for most adults. It only takes about 100 mL of coffee per day to significantly reduce glioma- tumors that develop in the brain and nervous system (Michaud et. al, 2010). The benefits of coffee are significant for most individuals in both long and short-term health. In the short term, high rates of coffee consumption are linked to improved cognitive function, typically in the form of improved memory, and decreased rates of dementia (Abreu, 2011). Long-term studies have shown that higher rates of coffee consumption cause a significant decrease in plaque deposits and lesions in the brain that often leads to Alzheimer’s disease (Gelber, 2011). 

The overwhelming majority of the scientific community has concluded that coffee can have a positive impact on most individuals and can be an important part of brain protection and development. With all of the foods and habits that can have a negative impact on your health, it’s good to know that coffee is one part of your daily routine that you can feel great about! 


Abreu, R. V., Silva-Oliveira, E. M., Moraes, M. F. D., Pereira, G. S., & Moraes-Santos, T. (2011). Chronic coffee and caffeine ingestion effects on the cognitive function and antioxidant system of rat brains. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 99(4), 659. 

Gelber, R. P., Petrovitch, H., Masaki, K. H., Ross, G. W., & White, L. R. (2011). Coffee Intake in Midlife and Risk of Dementia and its Neuropathologic Correlates. Journal Of Alzheimer's Disease
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(4), 607-615. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-101428 
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