Can’t remember? Don’t forget caffeine

I, like many millions of folks, love morning coffee. The first thing I do is drink a few cups while listening to the roosters and birds outside the front door.

Turns out it might be one of the smarter things I do in a day.

According to a new study – yep, another new study — caffeine boosts your memory. The study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University was published in the Jan. 13 edition of Nature Neuroscience.

“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects,” said author of the study, Michael Yassa, “but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans. We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.”

If you’re not a lover of java, you can skip it and go straight to the caffeine.

“Researchers conducting the study found that giving a person caffeine after they memorized some information made their ability to remember small details better,” according to Forbes.

So, how exactly did this study work?

Participants were given pictures to study and then they were given a caffeine pill or a placebo pill. Twenty-four hours after they were given the caffeine, or placebo, the participants were asked to identify the photos that were shown the day before in a new set of photos.

Those placed in the caffeine group were better than those who were given the placebo, making it evident that caffeine may have boosted their memory.

Now, that doesn’t sound like the most conclusive evidence I’ve ever heard in debating the pros and cons of caffeine. And there are pros and cons. Have been for many years. Consider that caffeine is not just in our beloved cup of Joe, but tea, pop and chocolate, to name a few.

In a nutshell, according to www.dummies.com, here are the pros:

• Caffeine makes you more alert.

• Caffeine increases energy levels.

• Caffeine can make it easier for you to concentrate.

• Caffeine has been shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes in people with normal blood sugar levels.

However, other studies indicate that caffeine consumption causes glucose levels to rise slightly in diabetics.

• Regular coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, a motor system disorder that causes trembling, muscle rigidity, and poor balance. Scientists believe coffee prevents the body from losing dopamine-transmitting brain cells — the cells Parkinson’s disease destroys.

But before you head to Starbucks and order a double latte, you should be aware of the cons of caffeine:

• Anxiousness, nervousness, and irritability

• Headache

• Irregular or fast heartbeat

• Muscle twitches and tremors

• Sleeplessness

In case you’re wondering, there are ways to improve your memory, other than caffeine. Allegedly, doing things like clenching your right fist during learning helps aid memory. Chewing gum reportedly helps you stay focused. Sound sleep benefits your brain’s ability to recall information. I’ve read that losing weight somehow helps you remember things, but I can’t figure out the connection. Exercise, too, does the trick, as it improves blood flow.

For me, when I make an appointment, I must instantly mark it in my calendar linked to my email. I also have learned to quickly tape notes to my monitor at work as a reminder of tasks on certain days. I’ll even scribble notes on my hand. Sometimes, though, I forget, and that’s when I’ll get a call asking where I am come the date of that appointment. I apologize and vow that next time, I’ll remember.

You know what I always remember without even trying? My morning coffee. And it seems that really is worth a hill of beans.

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