The Benefit of Coffee and Tea for Parkinson’s
Last updated: July 2022
Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea can be both a blessing and a curse. While they are rich in nutrients and contain neuroprotective properties, they can also interrupt your sleep quality.
Check out how to make the most of these beloved beverages to best manage your Parkinson’s disease.
What are the benefits?
Your favorite tea or coffee does more than just put a smile on your face. Each is abundant in antioxidants, which can help neutralize free radicals associated with oxidative stress.1,2
But the benefits don’t stop there! These mighty compounds can also decrease inflammation, and most research supports coffee and tea’s positive role in helping protect against cognitive decline.1,2
Some research shows these brews can mitigate early symptoms and slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, caffeinated beverages can help decrease the onset and severity of tremors. Regular consumption of coffee and tea also has a neuroprotective effect that slows down cognitive decline.3
However, the results obtained were based on varying degrees of caffeine intake and did not specify an optimal daily consumption; therefore, further research is required.3
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is highly prevalent among those with Parkinson’s disease, affecting almost 26.5 percent of people. GERD symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, and more.4,5
Because of its acidity, it’s often recommended to minimize caffeine intake to avoid triggering or worsening reflux. But rather than giving up on your beloved bean, experiment with low-acid varieties.6
It’s all about the processing. Low-acid coffee relies on a high-pressure stream to remove the waxy and highly acidic coating on the bean. It then gets roasted at a lower temperature for a longer period of time to further reduce the acid content.
I find my clients benefit from doubling up on their coffee paper filter to help lower acidity. This also captures some of the coffee oils from the beans, so your brew doesn’t contribute to your LDL cholesterol. I recommend using a drip filter like a Chemex or a percolator (with 1-2 paper filters inserted).
So, if you want to improve your GERD without sacrificing your morning cup of Joe or tea, consider a low-acid option.
Let your body wake up
I get it - there isn’t anything quite like waking up with your favorite brew in hand. Its warm and heavenly scent seemingly provides superpowers needed to tackle the upcoming day.
However, recent research suggests reaching for your coffee or tea shortly after ending your nightly slumber may disrupt your body’s ability to wake up naturally. Just like an alarm clock, this caffeine-induced wake-up interferes with the body’s natural circadian rhythm.7,8
That’s right; your nightly sleep can get disturbed from the moment the day begins. So, hit the snooze button on your cup of coffee or tea and wait till the body wakes up "au naturel" to maximize restorative sleep later on. A couple of hours can make all the difference. Manage your morning ritual by enjoying herbal tea until your body feels ready to slay the day.
Have a caffeine cut-off time
Does your love for coffee or tea extend to the afternoon or evening? With long workdays or never-ending household chores, a quick pick-me-up often feels like an essential.
But consuming caffeine too late in the day can equally disrupt your circadian rhythm and restorative sleep. Maximize your sleep quality by finding a caffeine cut-off time.9
While some may have a longer caffeine window than others, it’s all about finding what works best for you. Once you find your cut-off time, give it the R-E-S-P-E-C-T that it deserves. If you are longing for the sweet smell of your favorite coffee or tea, opt for a decaffeinated version.
If not, it becomes a never-ending cycle of low-quality ZZZs and increased reliance on caffeine. Break the cycle and call it quits on your mid to late-day caffeine to better your sleep habits.
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