Globally, people begin their morning with a piping hot cup of coffee. However, a new study suggests that this morning ritual could be affecting your brain, specifically your memory.
While most of us rely on the beverage to give us that much-needed boost of energy in the morning, others use it as a way to come together and socialize with family members and, in normal times, colleagues in the office. Regardless of your reasons for drinking the caffeinated beverage, many of us can agree that we can all benefit from sipping on a cup in the morning. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).
And while there are a host of health benefits linked to drinking coffee on a regular basis, new research indicates it could slightly alter the composition of your brain, particularly the volume of gray matter. The small study, which was published in the journal Cerebral Cortex found that after 10-day period of "caffeine abstinence," participants had a greater volume of gray matter than those who had caffeine.
The participants consisted of 20 healthy people who regularly drink coffee. They were given two capsules (one contained caffeine and the other was a placebo) to take during two different 10-day periods. They were asked to not drink coffee during either time frame. At the end of each 1o-day period, researchers looked at the participants' gray matter via brain scans.
While the initial purpose of the study was to see if caffeine had any effect on sleep quality, as sleep deprivation can affect gray matter in the brain. However, the findings revealed that the participant's depth of sleep was equal, despite having caffeine or not. What was different? The volume of gray matter brain was greater during the 10-day "caffeine abstinence" stint.
The gray matter was especially greater in the right medial temporal lobe, which includes the hippocampus (aka the region that's essential for memory consolidation).
"Our results do not necessarily mean that caffeine consumption has a negative impact on the brain," Dr. Carolin Reichert one of the lead study authors, said in a statement. "But daily caffeine consumption evidently affects our cognitive hardware, which in itself should give rise to further studies."
So, while caffeine appeared to reduce the volume of gray matter, once participants stopped having caffeine for 10 days, the volume of gray matter appeared to significantly regenerate in all who participated in this study. This goes to show that the effects caffeine has on the brain are likely temporary, however, more research is needed to see how else this could be affecting our day-to-day brain function if at all.
For more, be sure to read 9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Brewing Coffee, According to Experts.