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Could coffee provide memory support?

With Alzheimer's disease already deemed the defining disorder of the Baby Boomer Generation, it is no surprise that so much medical research has been devoted to memory support in recent years. From the influence of yoga and aerobic exercise to the benefits of natural compounds like curcumin for brain health, every day it seems that we are learning more about how to protect the mind from this type of degeneration.

Recently, a team of researchers from John Hopkins University found that one substance that is routinely frowned upon in a medical context may actually boast some benefits for memory retention: Caffeine. Yes, we may all drink a few more cups of coffee than we should – particularly in offices where a hot cup of joe is mere steps away. However, though coffee can certainly wreak havoc on an empty stomach, a press release from John Hopkins notes that caffeine may make certain recollections more formidable in the face of cognitive decline.

"We've always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans," said lead researcher Michael Yassa.

Yassa and his colleagues observed that consuming caffeine could improve an individual's ability to recall images from a study session that occurred 24 hours prior to testing. Further research is required to verify these results, and the findings certainly aren't license to drink caffeinated beverages with reckless abandon, but they may shed light on the mechanisms of brain health and memory retention.

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