Two hot drinks loved by millions of Britons may prevent old age frailty – study

People in their middle-age who drink caffeinated tea and coffee may reduce their risk of developing physical frailty later in life.

This is the conclusion of a team of researchers from Singapore who studied the health of 12,000 adults — with an average initial age of 53 — over the course of two decades.

The opening questionnaires in the study were undertaken between 1993 and 1998, during which subjects were also asked about their consumption of caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee and soft drinks, as well as foods like chocolate.

During follow-up interviews, the team monitored changes in each participant’s weight. The final interviews — held between 2014 and 2017 — also focussed on physical robustness.

Subjects were asked if they felt “full of energy” and were given tests of both their handgrip strength and ability to get up and go.

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The researchers noted that coffee and tea were the main sources of caffeine among the subjects — accounting for 84 and 12 percent of the total caffeine intake, respectively.

In fact, more than two-thirds of the participants reported drinking coffee daily. Of this subgroup, 53 percent drank one cup per day, 42 percent had two to three cups daily, and the remainder consumed four or more cups each day.

The team found that the five percent who drank the most coffee daily had “significantly reduced” chances of experiencing physical frailty later in life when compared to those who did not drink coffee regularly. (A similar effect was seen among tea drinkers.)

It is believed, specifically, that caffeine was the key component here — with the associations with reduced physical frailty strongest in the specific metrics of handgrip strength the up-and-go test.

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Paper author Professor Woon-Puay Koh — a population health scientists at the National University of Singapore — concluded: “Coffee and tea are mainstay beverages in many societies around the world.

“Our studies show that consumption of these caffeinated drinks at midlife may be associated with a reduced likelihood of physical frailty in late life.

“However, further studies are still needed to confirm these longitudinal associations, and to investigate if these effects on physical frailty are mediated by caffeine or other chemical compounds.”

Coffee and tea both also contain rich bioactive polyphenols — which possess both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties — and have been associated with a reduced risk of frailty-inducing conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and obesity.

The full findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

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