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The Coffee and Sugar Brain Power Connection

Coffee and sugar seem to go together in many ways. Whether you stir some directly into your java or nosh on a sweet treat while you drink your cup of Joe, the two seem to go quite literally hand-in-hand in most cultures. (Think sugary coffee drinks in America or pastries in France or even espresso with dark chocolate in Italy!) With so many of us trying to lose extra pounds, many of us are forgoing the sugar, as most sugar provides extra calories, causes a spike in insulin and provides no real nutritional value. However, new research is finding that the combination of glucose (sugar) and caffeine can boost brain power!

The study, which was published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology and conducted at the University of Barcelona, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to better understand how the two substances affect the brain. Researchers found that those who consumed caffeine and glucose together showed reduced brain activation associated in the bilateral parietal cortex and the left prefrontal cortex — two regions that control attention and working-memory — when doing tasks. The reduced activity and the fact that there was no drop in behavioral performance, researchers say, suggests that the brain becomes more efficient when fueled by coffee and sugar because it needs fewer resources to produce the same level of performance as compared to other study subjects who received a placebo or who took only caffeine or glucose.

While we’re — of course — not recommending that you go out and live on donuts and coffee everyday to boost brain power by any means, this research is interesting enough to help excuse the occasional breakfast treat or after dinner dessert with coffee. And remember, the best way to really boost brain performance is to eat a healthy diet filled with nutritious and delicious foods!

December 6th, 2010

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