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'Soft drinks add to your grey cells'

Two cans of soft drink can boost memory retention by a fifth and combat dementia in older people, says a study.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 16, 2006 13:49 IST

This may surprise health freaks, who are convinced to the core that fizzy drinks have a negative effect on the body, as a new research has found that these drinks can actually improve your memory.

Consuming the equivalent of two cans of soft drink can boost memory retention by a fifth and combat dementia in older people, found neuroscientists from Glasgow Caledonian University.

Psychology lecturer Dr Leigh Riby, who led the research, said people studying for exams could benefit from increasing the amount of sugar in their diet.

He focused on an area of the brain known as the hippocampus, which creates new memories but declines with the onset of dementia.

Dr Riby used a series of memory tests and brain- imaging techniques to assess how volunteers responded after guzzling sugary drinks.

He found the hippocampus lit up with activity after participants had a sweetened drink and they were able to recall 17 per cent more than without a drink.

"It is widely accepted that when humans face a stressful situation they experience a natural rise in glucose in the body, particularly in the hippocampus. They also tend to remember these dangerous or scary occurrences more clearly than other memories," he was quoted by the DailyMail, as saying.

"This glucose-memory system has evolved to help humans survive. Unfortunately, it is compromised in old age," he added.

Twenty-five volunteers aged between 18 and 52 years old took part in the study and 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 per cent more words.

If the participants consumed twice that amount of sugar, they showed a 17 per cent improvement.

"Our research shows that consuming a glucose drink can significantly boost memory recall. What's more, our work on young and middle aged adults shows if we can 'train' our bodies early in life to effectively use their own glucose reserves, poor memory function can be minimised in adulthood," Dr Riby said.