Coffee's Double Power: Boost Your Brain and Muscles

Coffee's Double Power: Boost Your Brain and Muscles

Written by: Vincent Pedre M.D. | June 5, 2024 | Time to read 12 min

June is Brain Health Awareness Month and we’re diving into the myriad ways you can support and enhance your cognitive health. One surprising ally in this endeavor? Coffee! This beloved beverage has been under the scientific lens for its potential benefits on brain health and overall wellness. Let’s explore the profound connection between coffee consumption, cognitive function, and even muscle health, highlighting recent research that underscores its importance.

The significance of maintaining optimal brain health cannot be overstated, particularly as we age. Currently, over 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia, and this number is projected to rise to 139 million by 2050. Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, accounts for 60-70% of these cases.

So finding natural ways to bolster brain function is crucial. Coffee, rich in antioxidants and bioactive compounds, has emerged as a promising ally in this endeavor. Let’s examine why and how coffee can play a significant role in maintaining both brain health and body tone!

June Brain and Alzhaimer

The Brain-Boosting Benefits of Coffee

Coffee is more than just a morning pick-me-up; could it also enhance memory and concentration? The primary component, caffeine, is well-known for its stimulating effects, but coffee contains numerous other compounds, such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, that play a role in maintaining cognitive function. But what exactly makes coffee so beneficial for our brains?

Could coffee actually slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease?

One of the most significant cognitive benefits of coffee is its ability to enhance memory and concentration. Studies have shown that caffeine can improve short-term memory and cognitive performance, particularly in tasks that require attention and problem-solving skills. This is partly because caffeine blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep, thereby increasing alertness and focus.

Could coffee be the solution to age-related muscle loss?

In addition to caffeine, coffee contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress that occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA by stealing electrons through a process called oxidation. They are a key factor in the aging process and the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. When the balance tips in favor of free radicals, oxidative stress ensues, leading to cellular damage and contributing to various health issues. By neutralizing the free radicals, polyphenols in coffee can help protect brain cells from damage and support overall brain health.

Can Drinking Coffee Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk?

The bioactive compounds in coffee, including caffeine and polyphenols, have anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce inflammation in the brain. And chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's disease is a devastating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by the progressive loss of memory and cognitive function. Recent research has suggested that coffee consumption may play a protective role against Alzheimer's disease.

One of the key ways coffee may help prevent Alzheimer's is through its anti-inflammatory properties.

Moreover, coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's. A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that people who drank coffee regularly had a significantly lower risk of developing the disease compared to non-coffee drinkers. The researchers suggested that the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in coffee, combined with caffeine reduce the buildup of amyloid plauqes and thus help protect against the neurodegenerative processes that lead to conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Trigonelline: The Solution to Age-Related Muscle Loss

In addition to caffeine and polyphenols, coffee contains another valuable compound known as trigonelline. This natural molecule has garnered attention for its potential role in preventing age-related muscle loss, a condition known as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a common issue among the elderly, leading to frailty and decreased quality of life.

Trigonelline is not only beneficial for muscle health but also plays a role in brain health. Recent studies have shown that trigonelline can help improve insulin sensitivity and boost levels of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a molecule essential for cellular energy production and DNA repair. Higher NAD+ levels have been linked to improved muscle function and potentially better cognitive health.

According to research highlighted by Longevity Technology, trigonelline in coffee can significantly improve muscle function during aging, reduced age-related muscle wasting, and increase lifespan and mobility by boosting NAD+ levels. This finding is crucial as it opens up new possibilities for using coffee as a natural intervention to maintain both brain and muscle health in the aging population.

Coffee Benefits

Coffee's Role in Reducing Depression and Enhancing Mood

Beyond its cognitive and muscle-building benefits, coffee has also been linked to improved mental health. Depression is a common mental health disorder that can have a profound impact on an individual's quality of life. Actually it is so common that only in the United States, approximately 21 million adults experience at least one major depressive episode each year. Worldwide, depression affects more than 280 million people, making it one of the leading causes of disability globally. Several studies have suggested that coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of depression.

The mood-enhancing effects of coffee are primarily attributed to its caffeine content. Caffeine acts as a natural stimulant, increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are known to improve mood and reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Additionally, the antioxidants in coffee also play a role in protecting against depression by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.

But managing stress and anxiety goes beyond just enjoying a cup of coffee. That’s why I’m excited to invite you to join the 6-Week Stress-Less Challenge as part of the Gut-Brain Mastery Program .

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The program provides a comprehensive approach that covers more than just diet and exercise. It explores how every aspect of your lifestyle influences your gut health and teaches you to make choices that support this delicate balance. The 6 comprehensive modules guide you through education, empowerment, and transformation, offering hope to anyone frustrated by health and mental issues.

By participating in the Gut-Brain Mastery Program, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the gut-brain relationship and learn effective management strategies. This program offers a path to symptom relief and a happier, healthier life!

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A study that lasted 10 years , conducted among 50,000 US women found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of developing depression compared to those who drank less or no coffee. While the exact mechanisms are still being studied, these findings suggest that coffee is a valuable tool in maintaining mental health and well-being. Beware, though, as drinking excessive amounts of coffee (more than 2 cups daily) can affect sleep, leading to insomnia, and aggravating anxiety and irritability in predisposed individuals.

Okay, now we know how beneficial coffee actually is, let’s learn how you can maximize the benefits of coffee…

7 Ways to Maximize the Brain-Boosting Benefits of Coffee

To fully harness the brain-boosting benefits of coffee, it's important to consider how and when you consume it. Here are some practical tips to help you get the most out of your coffee habit:

1. Moderation is Key: While coffee has many benefits, excessive consumption can lead to negative side effects like insomnia, jitteriness, and increased heart rate. General recommendations suggest no more than 3-4 cups of coffee per day (providing up to 400 mg/day of caffeine) can be part of a healthy diet for most people and might offer cancer-protective benefits. However, in my experience, I’ve found that people should try to limit themselves to no more than 2 cups daily for the best balance of benefits to risks.

2.Choose Quality Coffee: The quality of your coffee matters. Opt for high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans to maximize the intake of beneficial compounds. Organic coffee beans are free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals that can negate the positive effects of coffee.

3. Avoid Adding Sugar or Sugar Syrups: Sugar or sugar syrups can negate some of the health benefits of coffee. Try to enjoy your coffee black or with minimal natural sweeteners, like stevia or allulose.

4. Pairing Coffee with a Balanced Diet: Incorporate coffee into a balanced diet by pairing it with a nutritious breakfast that includes whole grains, fruits, and protein. Avoid high-sugar pastries or unhealthy snacks that can counteract the benefits of your coffee.

5. Timing Matters: Drink coffee in the morning or early afternoon to avoid disrupting your sleep. Consuming coffee too late in the day can interfere with your sleep cycle, which is crucial for brain health. Test out cutting out coffee after 12 noon or 2pm to see which time suits you best for a restful night’s sleep.

6. Preparation Methods: Brew methods like pour-over or French press can preserve more antioxidants compared to drip coffee makers. These methods extract more of the beneficial compounds from the coffee grounds, providing a richer and more flavorful cup of coffee. However, a word of caution with French press coffee, as the prolonged contact with the ground coffee beans increases the amount of cafestol and kahweol in the coffee, two compounds known to raise LDL cholesterol levels. 

7. Consider Your Health Status: If you have any underlying health conditions or are sensitive to caffeine, consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate amount of coffee for you.

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Embracing Coffee for a Sharper Mind and Healthier Future

As we celebrate Brain Health Awareness Month, it's encouraging to know that simple lifestyle choices, such as drinking coffee, can have a significant impact on our cognitive health. From enhancing memory and concentration to potentially protecting against Alzheimer's and improving mood, coffee offers a range of benefits that make it a valuable addition to your daily routine.

With ongoing research uncovering the many compounds in coffee, like trigonelline, and their amazing benefits, it’s clear that this beloved beverage can help support our brain health as we age. By understanding and making the most of these benefits, we can take proactive steps to keep our minds sharp and our overall well-being in check.


How does coffee benefit brain health?

Coffee contains caffeine and antioxidants that improve memory, focus, and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

What is the role of caffeine in enhancing cognitive function?

Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, increasing alertness and improving short-term memory and cognitive performance.

Can coffee help prevent Alzheimer's disease?

Studies suggest that coffee's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

What is trigonelline, and how does it benefit the body?

Trigonelline is a compound in coffee that improves muscle function and insulin sensitivity, potentially benefiting brain health.

How does coffee reduce the risk of depression?

Caffeine increases dopamine and serotonin levels, enhancing mood and potentially lowering the risk of depression.

How much coffee is safe to drink daily?

Moderation is key; 3-4 cups per day are generally considered safe and beneficial, but I recommend no more than 2 cups daily for the best balance of benefits to risks.

Does the quality of coffee affect its health benefits?

Yes, high-quality, freshly roasted coffee contains more beneficial compounds.

Can adding sugar to coffee negate its benefits?

Adding sugar can reduce the health benefits of coffee. It's best enjoyed black or with minimal natural sweeteners.

When is the best time to drink coffee?

Morning or early afternoon is ideal to avoid sleep disturbances.

Is coffee beneficial for everyone?

Individuals with certain health conditions or caffeine sensitivity should consult a healthcare provider.

What are the antioxidant properties of coffee?

Coffee's polyphenols reduce oxidative stress, protecting brain cells from damage.

How does coffee improve memory and concentration?

Caffeine enhances short-term memory and cognitive performance by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain.

What other mental health benefits does coffee offer?

Coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of depression and improved mood.

What is the significance of NAD+ levels in aging?

Higher NAD+ levels, boosted by trigonelline, improve muscle and cognitive function during aging.

Can coffee consumption impact long-term brain health?

Regular coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

What role do polyphenols play in coffee's health benefits?

Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect brain cells and reduce oxidative stress.

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