Coffeegasm: protection against Alzheimer’s

The following has essentially zero impact on my habits, but it is worth crowing about all the same:

A U.S. study has found drinking five cups a day not only protects against Alzheimer’s disease but may even reverse damage.

Scientists at the University of Florida tested the theory on 55 mice bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s, giving half the test group caffeine in their water once signs of memory impairment became apparent.

Astonishingly, and to the delight of the cafe latte set, those dosed up on caffeine performed far better on memory tests and thought-related skills than those who were not given caffeine.

“The results are particularly exciting in that a reversal of pre-existing memory impairment is more difficult to achieve,” said study leader Dr. Gary Arendash in a BBC report. “They provide evidence that caffeine could be a viable ‘treatment’ for established Alzheimer’s disease [sufferers] and not simply a protective strategy.”

“That’s important because caffeine is a safe drug for most people,” he added, “it easily enters the brain, and it appears to directly affect the disease process.”
The team believes the application of caffeine has a preventative effect on the production of both the enzymes needed to produce beta amyloid — the protein which forms destructive clumps in the brains of dementia patients.

Those mice lucky enough to be dosed on caffeine showed up to a 50 percent reduction in the damaging protein. Dr. Arendash has called for further tests to see if the results can be replicated on humans.

So, in a sense I can rationalize my Starbucks habit as a preventive health care expense. Incidentally, this is not the first study to suggest coffee’s beneficial effects wrt AD. Here’s a couple papers on PubMed I found when searching for “coffee alzheimer” – the second one is the paper referred to above.

Alzheimer’s disease and coffee: a quantitative review.
Barranco Quintana JL, Allam MF, Serrano Del Castillo A, Fernández-Crehuet Navajas R.
Neurol Res. 2007 Jan;29(1):91-5.

Caffeine protects Alzheimer’s mice against cognitive impairment and reduces brain beta-amyloid production.
Arendash GW, Schleif W, Rezai-Zadeh K, Jackson EK, Zacharia LC, Cracchiolo JR, Shippy D, Tan J.
Neuroscience. 2006 Nov 3;142(4):941-52. Epub 2006 Aug 28.

solar cells from powdered donuts and starbucks passion tea

I am not a chemist, so it would take me at least an hour to verify that the following has some basis in actual science, and even then I wouldn’t be able to really tell you for sure that this is kosher. But anyone who has access to a rudimentary lab setup should be able to reproduce the experiment.

I don’t think they were serious about the “lightning setting” on the multimeter, though.

twinkie of doom

On my trip to San Francisco last weekend ((btw, I went to San Francisco this past weekend)) I encountered one of these for the first time:

img_0727-large

That’s a fried twinkie, purchased at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. And I confess I couldn’t take more than two bites of it before admitting defeat. I still need to try fried Oreos at some point, though…

burrito fanboi

food with integrity

Fast Company has a brief little profile on Chipotle, focusing on the company founder’s strict policy of serving only humane and naturally-raised meat. The article notes that Chipotle has some trouble meeting its supply needs due to its strict requirements. However, it seems that Chipotle is a vector for change within the industry:

“We want to influence the supply chain in the United States,” he says — comes at a cost. It’s difficult to buy 52 million pounds of the good stuff. Humane providers tend to be small and are already at capacity. Ells recently began retaining small suppliers in Canada, increasing his shipping costs. Chipotle has to pay a premium for Ells’s passion, and so do his customers (the average burrito is now $6 to $7). “In an economic environment where the consumer is cautious about spending money,” analyst Haskell says, “we’re cautious about higher-cost concepts like this.”

Surprisingly, Chipotle’s answer may lie in the competition. Burger King and Wendy’s, the No. 2 and No. 5 U.S. chains, respectively, recently began to explore humane-pork options. Their needs will likely create more supply options. “Chipotle is a major vector of change in its industry,” says professor Rollin. Adds Wolf, the industry expert: “Restaurants at every level better hurry up and make sure there isn’t poison in their food.” He continues, “Chipotle makes great food and serves it. Genius!” Make better burritos, open more restaurants — what a concept.

My Chipotle

chipotle

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 813 Cal from Fat 267
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 48%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Trans Fat 0g  

Cholesterol 65mg 22%
Sodium 2153mg 90%
Total Carbs 90g 30%
Dietary Fiber 13g 52%
Sugars 5g  

Protein 42g  

Vitamin A 0% • Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% • Iron 0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
INGREDIENTS: 13″ Tortilla,Rice,Steak (4oz),Red (Hot) Salsa,Lettuce,Guacamole (4oz)

There aren’t any in casual driving distance from Marshfield, alas. Moving to Madison in June though 🙂