Sharpening Your Memory With Coffee?


CoffeeOne hundred milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of two cups of coffee, can increase activity in the part of your brain that is responsible for short-term memory. A study showed improved performance on a memory test as a result.

The functions of this region of the brain also include prioritizing information efficiently, planning new tasks, and dealing with stored information.

Memory and Attention Brain Regions

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on a sample of 15 men showed that caffeine increased activity in a brain region in the frontal lobe (part of the working memory network) and in the anterior cingulate cortex, which controls attention. When the men were given a placebo instead, there was no increase in activity in these areas of the brain.

Quicker Response

When given caffeine, they also demonstrated improved reaction time on a test involving a randomized sequence of capital letters, in which they had to decide, as quickly as possible, whether the current letter was the same as or different from the letter presented two letters previously.

The mechanism by which the caffeine acts on the brain is largely unknown, but it may be related to the way the chemical reacts with the brain's small blood vessels and nerve cells. November 30, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

There seem to be an increasing number of studies extolling the virtues of drinking coffee as of late, including this new one that suggests drinking two cups may be enough to keep your memory sharp.

Coffee is the most widely used and cheapest drug in the world. But all the good news aside, drinking coffee is, at best, problematic, as it can interfere with your body's ability to keep cholesterol levels in check and increases your risk of stroke. It is also imperative that you avoid any coffee if you are pregnant.

And, if you think going decaf is any safer for you, guess again. Decaffeinated coffee can increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

So if you have the coffee habit it is time to consider stopping. However, please avoid the mistake that most people make when deciding to eliminate coffee from their diet. Caffeine is a drug and if you go off cold turkey you will needlessly suffer.

I recommend weaning yourself off coffee by cutting down the amount you drink gradually over a period of days or even weeks. It's important to drink plenty of water during the process in order to keep your body well hydrated.

While you're doing that, here are some tips to reduce the chance of harmful effects until you can completely eliminate it:

  • Use organic coffee. Coffee is a heavily sprayed crop, so drinking organic coffee might reduce or eliminate your exposure to toxic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Try "Swiss Water Process" decaf. If you are going to drink decaffeinated coffee, be sure that it uses a non-chemical based method of decaffeination. The "Swiss Water Process" is a patented method and is the best choice. Most of the major brands are chemically decaffeinated, even if it says "naturally decaffeinated" right on the container.
  • Avoid sugar and milk. These are actually much worse for you than the coffee itself.
  • Only use unbleached filters. If you use a "drip" coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones, which most people use, are chlorine bleached and some of this chlorine will be extracted from the filter during the brewing process.

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