The promise: Drinking two or three cups of caffeinated coffee per day may protect you from Parkinson’s Disease, an incurable, debilitating disorder that attacks your nervous system and is marked by tremors, stiffness, and difficulty of movement.
The proof: Higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with “significantly lower incidence” of Parkinson’s Disease, says a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000, which followed 8,000 men aged 45-68 over a 30-year period. Participants who drank at least 28 ounces or more of coffee per day were less likely to get Parkinson’s than people who drank less.
“When you take out the other additives [in coffee], it still works—it’s really the caffeine that’s helpful,” says Miran Salgado, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurosciences at New York Methodist Hospital and Medical Director for the American Parkinson Disease Association Information and Referral Center at New York Methodist Hospital. Caffeine crosses the blood-brain barrier and speeds up brain activity, which can protect brain health, slow the progression of Parkinson’s, and as some studies have shown, help improve compromised motor skills and involuntary movements brought on by Parkinson’s. So should you start drinking coffee if you don’t already? “I would do it,” says Dr. Salgado. “Do whatever can protect you. If coffee is one of them, you might as well drink a few cups a day. It’s probably a good idea.”