By Ayla Roberts
Your morning cup of coffee may be giving you more than just an energy boost. According to new research, trigonelline, a compound found in coffee and certain vegetables, can improve cognitive decline, spatial learning, and memory.
The study, conducted by the University of Tsukuba in Japan and published in GeroScience, sought to discover natural compounds that could improve age-related cognitive decline.
Researchers found that trigonelline significantly improved spatial learning and memory in aged mice. It was also found to support multiple pathways within the nervous system, decrease inflammation within the brain, and increase neurotransmitter levels.
Study Findings Explained
The study was conducted over a 16-week period using mice, to which the researchers administered trigonelline every day for 30 days followed by a water maze test. The researchers found that the mice demonstrated a significant improvement in their spatial learning and memory performance compared with the mice that did not receive trigonelline.
The researchers also wished to investigate the effects of trigonelline on brain matter, as well as specific neurotransmitters within the brain. The study revealed suppressed neuroinflammation within the brain tissue and higher levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin.
“For anyone looking for an excuse to drink more coffee, this study further validates previous research showing that coffee is helpful for cognition as we age,” Heather Sandison, a naturopathic doctor and an expert in neurocognitive medicine, told The Epoch Times.
What Is Trigonelline?
Trigonelline is a naturally occurring compound found in various plants. A byproduct of Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin), trigonelline is often found in high levels in coffee beans, fenugreek, and Japanese radish, and in lower levels in foods including oats, barley, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and peas. In various studies, trigonelline has been reported to provide some protection against brain aging and cognitive decline, including neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Other research has uncovered evidence that trigonelline can shield against additional medical conditions and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
Trigonelline has also demonstrated the potential to support cardiovascular health. Research suggests that trigonelline can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and improve cardiac blood flow.
Finally, there is evidence that trigonelline may be beneficial in treating and preventing diabetes. Trigonelline has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, both of which are key aspects of managing blood sugar levels.
How Does Trigonelline Help to Boost Memory and Cognition?
Trigonelline provides neuroprotective factors due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cell death properties. Antioxidants play a crucial role in counteracting free radicals which can damage cells within the body and contribute to poor aging, as well as various diseases. Anti-inflammatories help reduce systemic inflammation and stress within the body, which can also cause long-term brain cell damage or even brain cell death.
Previous studies have shown that trigonelline promotes the regeneration of cells within the neurons of the brain. This suggests that trigonelline can not only help sustain brain health but even improve it. At the same time, it inhibits the formation of certain byproducts which may cause neurological cell death. These two functions ultimately result in better memory capacity and improved cognition by preserving brain cells and supporting their optimal functioning as we get older.
Considering that roughly two out of three Americans experience some degree of cognitive restriction by the time they reach 70 years of age, maintaining brain health is often a significant and valid concern as we age. Although it may be tempting for older adults to reach for an extra cup of coffee in order to reap the benefits, it’s important to remember that increased coffee consumption isn’t right for everyone and, in some cases, it can even be harmful.
“While consuming these foods and beverages is generally safe, too much coffee can cause anxiety, digestive distress, and elevate blood pressure. Strategies aimed at optimizing cognitive function as we age should include foundations of regular exercise, brain healthy diet, adequate sleep, stress management, toxin avoidance, and social interaction,” explains Ms. Sandison. As always, it is recommended to consult with your health care provider before making any significant dietary changes.
While more research is needed to fully understand the extent of trigonelline’s impact on neurocognitive health, preliminary studies are encouraging. Nevertheless, based on the current research, including trigonelline as part of a natural approach to brain health as we age may be beneficial.