We all love a good excuse to drink Champagne, but unfortunately, sharpening your memory isn't it.
A 2013 study out of the United Kingdom resurfaced on social media this week, with headlines claiming that drinking up to three glasses of Champagne may protect you from memory loss associated with aging and disorders like dementia. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but the coverage of this research has been way off.
The experiment in question was conducted in 24 rats, according to the U.K.'s National Health Service. Every day for six weeks, researchers gave three groupings of eight rats either a small portion of Champagne, an alcoholic drink that was not Champagne, or a non-alcoholic drink. Before and after the experiment, each rat was sent through a maze that contained a treat.
The finding -- off of which headlines such as "Drinking three glasses of Champagne every week 'could prevent dementia'" were based -- was that five of the eight champagne-drinking rats successfully completed the maze, compared to an average four in the other groups.
But the study wasn't conducted in humans. It didn't have anything to do with dementia. And, as New York magazine points out, it wasn't observational, meaning it didn't track Champagne consumption over time and compare that to dementia diagnoses or cognitive tests. Perhaps most damning of all, the marginal finding relates to spatial memory -- not cognitive decline. It should also be noted that consuming too much alcohol can actually speed up cognitive decline.
That said, there are plenty of other things that can sharpen that noggin, from lifestyle habits to superfoods. Below are a few tricks that actually work when it comes to improving your memory.
1. Get those Z's.
Your professors weren't wrong when they warned against all-nighters. When you sleep, your brain takes the information you gathered throughout the day and processes it into your longterm memory. Make sure you get the recommended seven to nine hours each night to optimize the health benefits of sleep.
Show this to your boss next time they think you're not paying attention. Research suggests doodling on paper while listening to something may help with retention. In one study, researchers found that people who doodled remembered 29 percent more information from a boring phone call than people who just listened. This is because the act keeps your brain active, making it harder for you to tune out what's going on around you.
3. Be mindful of your diet.
Here's some food for thought: Research shows there's a large connection between what you eat and your memory. Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to a gene which may contribute to Alzheimer's disease, according to Harvard Health. It's important to note that this specific study was just conducted in women, but we can certainly infer more from it than an experiment done on rodents.
We're not implying that you forego an indulgence or two (that would be torture), but you may want to think twice before you have regular steak-and-fries dinners. Foods rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats (think fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts) are also good to include in your diet to help improve memory, Harvard Health reported.
4. Quit smoking.
Kick the habit for your mind. A 2010 data analysis found a significant association between individuals who smoked and a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease. Looking for some ways to quit? Try one of these.
An active body = an active mind. A 2014 University of British Columbia study found that regular aerobic exercise may increase the volume of the hippocampus, or one area of the brain in charge of -- you guessed it -- memory. Like the diet research mentioned above, this particular experiment was also conducted just on women, but it can also suggest a lot more about humans than rodents.
6. Avoid multitasking.
Trust us, simultaneously watching a puppy video on YouTube and trying to write a story on a deadline is not going to do anything for that noggin. In fact, distractions have a way of messing up your brain's ability to focus, leading you to ask, "What was I working on again?"
"We need to have an environment that nurtures memory function," Monique M. Williams, assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, told Live Science. "Be sure to have an area that is quiet and free from distractions. Multitasking is not an efficient means to accomplish tasks."
7. Ultimately, live a healthier lifestyle.
There's no antidote to an aging brain quite like prioritizing your health overall, experts say. That includes eating well, being physically active and even controlling your stress. Try one of these tricks if you're in need of a little calm (we're sorry to report drinking Champagne isn't on the list).
A healthier, happier mind? Cheers to that.
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