FORGET SOMETHING? DRINK A CAN OF IRN_BRU.
Scotland's other famous drink, and mine, is IRN-BRU, a delicious soft drink that has no equal anywhere in the world, can restore memory loss...
SUGARY drinks can boost your ability to memorise facts by up to a fifth, according to groundbreaking research by a team of Scottish scientists. Just one bottle or can of a sugar-laden soft drink has a significant effect on the brain's ability to store and retrieve memories, psychologists from Glasgow Caledonian University discovered.
They say anyone facing an exam, speech or any event where the ability to retrieve information accurately and rapidly is important is likely to perform better if they have a sugary drink beforehand.
And, in an age of low-sugar or artificially sweetened drinks, they suggest that too many low-calorie beverages could hamper mental performance. Dr Leigh Riby, a psychology lecturer at the university who led the research, claims that people who suffer from poor memory have difficulties in regulating sugar levels in their brains.
He believes it is possible to identify people who are likely to have memory problems in later life by examining the way their bodies deal with sugar and to help them by making simple changes to their diet.But he also claims that a quick fix of glucose can help even people with good memory improve their performance.
"I encourage my students to have an energy drink before lectures, as it helps them learn more," he said. "When young and middle-aged adults are given glucose supplements, their memory activity increases as their brains are flooded with glucose, which triggers activation of the cells in the hippocampus area of the brain. "This area lights up with activity when extra glucose is taken into the body."
In a series of studies carried out using memory tests on volunteers, the researchers found that those who had drinks laced with glucose before their tasks were up to 17% better at remembering. Sophisticated brain-imaging techniques also revealed high levels of activity in the area of the brain related to memory shortly after participants consumed high-sugar energy drinks.
In tests where volunteers were asked to remember a list of words, those that drank orange-flavoured water containing 25g of sugar, about the same as a can of Coca-Cola, could remember 11% more words. If they drank twice that amount of sugar, they showed a 17% improvement.
The study, conducted in 25 adults aged between 18 and 52 years old, also showed that the participants were around 100 milliseconds faster at remembering sets of letters shown to them a few minutes earlier.
It may help to explain the secret behind the new Tory leader David Cameron's vote-winning speech, delivered without notes during the party leadership campaign.
Cameron later revealed that he drinks tea with 10 spoonfuls of sugar in it before giving key speeches, after former leader William Hague advised him it would coat his larynx and stop his mouth drying out.
But the research at Caledonian University suggests the highly sweetened drink also helped him remember key points.
Riby is now attempting to develop interventions to help adults with poor memory to use their natural sugar reserves more effectively.
He said: "In the long term, poor glucose regulation can lead to poor memory function in later adulthood. "Our work shows that if we can 'train' our bodies early in life to effectively use their own glucose reserves, poor memory function can be minimised. "By changing the diet of young or middle-aged adults who have trouble regulating their own glucose levels, it would be possible to reduce the memory problems they may have. "We want to do this as much as possible through natural diet, as there are a number of reasons not to give people lots of sugar."
Riby also claims that his research, which was funded by the NHS and Wellcome Trust, explains why people can remember frightening and unpleasant experiences far more readily.
He said: "It is not surprising that glucose levels have become so inexorably linked to memory from an evolutionary point of view. When a stressful event such as being put in danger or being frightened occurs, adrenaline levels go up, which increases the natural glucose levels in the blood. "This causes lots of glucose to flood the brain and trigger the formation of memories."
Another key area of the group's work is to use glucose supplements to enhance memory in elderly patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Dementia affects more than 63,000 people in Scotland and costs the NHS millions of pounds in care. Previous research by Riby found that dementia patients showed dramatic improvements in their memory after being given glucose.
But public health experts warned against drinking large quantities of sugary drinks in a bid to boost memory function.
David Conway, a clinical lecturer in dental public health at Glasgow University, said: "It is clearly going to cause serious problems not just for teeth but for general health if people start consuming large amounts of sugar. "The best way is to ensure sugar intake is achieved at regular meal times rather than constantly, which does not allow the teeth to recover."
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Now, where did I leave my can of IRN-BRU?