It’s February, and around here, that means the days are often cold and rainy. In other words, good times to snuggle up with a warm cup of coffee or tea. For some of us, this raises the question of how much is too much of a good thing?

Well, some recent studies might surprise you in terms of your caffeine intake. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that seniors were less frail and had significantly better physical function later in life if they had a regular higher intake of caffeinated drinks than those that did not.

Researchers at the National University in Singapore surveyed data from 12,000 participants between ages 45 and 74, over the course of 20 years, taking note of diet, medical history, sociodemographic characteristics, height, weight, energy levels, physical activities and sleep duration. According to the leader of the study, Koh Woon Puay, “Our studies show that consumption of caffeinated drinks at midlife may be associated with a reduced likelihood of physical frailty in late life.”

The main sources of caffeine among those included in the study were coffee and tea.  In addition to monitoring the number of cups of caffeinated drinks consumed by participants, researchers also measured their hand grips and balance to determine their physical frailty and fall risk. Researchers found that drinking coffee, black tea or green tea at midlife was “independently associated” with a largely reduced risk of physical frailty in later life. Even more surprising to some, is that the study seemed to show that participants who had four or more cups of coffee per day had a substantially decreased likelihood of frailty later in life compared to those who didn’t have a daily cup of coffee, and those who drank black or green tea daily also showed reduced chances of frailty compared to non-tea drinkers.

The researchers were careful to note that further investigation is necessary to find the specific ingredients that led to the link between caffeinated beverages and physical frailty.  For now, let’s just enjoy this encouraging news on a cold or rainy February day. Here’s hoping you are reading this while snuggled up under a blanket and enjoying a freshly brewed cup of your favorite coffee or tea. Enjoy it in the full knowledge that it may be warming you up now and keeping you from getting frail later!

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