How coffee and donuts enhance memory

This short article talks about how chemicals in your body control your thoughts and feelings. The example that Gary Wenk starts out with is craving a donut in the morning. Your body needs glucose for fuel so you crave something sweet. Eating that donut instead of eggs or bacon gives your body the sugars it needs to get your neurons firing and helps create an optimal learning environment. So where does the coffee come in? The sugar from the donuts will only take so far and that is when coffee kicks in to inhibit the neurotransmitter that makes you tired.

As a huge fan of Robert’s home-made donuts every other Thursday, this article caught my eye. Plus I was hoping that it would prove why I should eat donuts and drink coffee every day. While this article did not satisfy that need for me, it was very informative and an easy read. The author, Gary Wenk who has a PhD and is a Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience & Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics at the Ohio State University, does not use a bunch of scientific jargon. He draws you into the article with a topic that targets people on the go and he breaks down every step of the process. My favorite part of this article is how he concludes by going back to his original statement and even adds a little humor in that last line. With that one last line let me know that coffee and donuts have their benefits but also our brain does not also know how exactly we are getting that glucose for energy. My suggestion is to eat some fruit because that it is good for you and will satisfy your sweet tooth.

8 thoughts on “How coffee and donuts enhance memory

  1. When Wenk states “Your neurons can only tolerate a total deprivation of sugar for a few minutes before they begin to die.” It almost justifies the late night sugar rush in the library needed to get through the night.The study makes me wonder if the amount of sugar in one’s brain has an impact on one’s ability to memorize.


  2. While Gary Wenk does provide a legitimate neurobiological reason for why our brains want donuts in the morning, I am not so sure I agree with what he is saying. Sure, our brains crave glucose when we wake up. And obviously donuts and high sugar-content cereals satisfy that yearning. But good ole Gary here neglects to mention that donuts do a whole lot more than just provide sugar to fuel our brains. Donuts also contain more trans fats than chocolate, peanut butter chocolate bars and even chips. Furthermore, eating just one donut will meet your maximum allowance for trans fats for the whole day.

    I could not agree with you more in terms of your suggestion to eat fruit instead. Dates, bananas, grapes, and blueberries are all very high in glucose content (not to mention, they contain natural sugars). People like Gary Wenk, who condone unhealthy eating habits, are not helping America’s obesity epidemic. Overall, this is a good article. I just wish he had suggested a healthier alternative to donuts.


  3. This is a great post and makes having Dunkin’ Donuts everyday okay.

    However, I am wondering if the effects would change overtime if an individual’s daily morning meal is a donut and coffee. Do they need more or less over time?


  4. Fabulous justification for sugary goods and coffee! Like with anything, too many doughnuts are not good news – although as a coffee addict, I can see no downside. I drink coffee for pain suppression and energy during hard workouts, and its great to know that, at the very least, it doesn’t cause damage!


  5. Sooooo, does this mean that we should have doughnuts in class? I would be totally up for that. At the same time, it makes total sense as to why when I, or many other people in my family, wake up, the first thing that we want is coffee with lots of sugar, or juice.


  6. For me, this article “technically” makes sense. By that, I mean that it is a sound argument, but like many of my peers above, I disagree that this article “justifies eating a doughnut in the morning”. Doughnuts are a deadly combination of sugar, other carbs from bread, and fat. While they are a great treat once in a while, Having alternate foods at breakfast makes much more sense.

    Additionally, I think that this article is most useful in the argument for making sure a complete breakfast is eaten each day, in order to provide your brain with that glucose that it does need.


  7. I cannot agree with this article either. While a sugary donut may provide a quick jump in blood glucose levels, it also comes with a large dose of insulin that will mobilize more glucose than you put in, effectively lowering your blood glucose levels to below what you had when the donut craving kicked in. Not only will this leave you feeling more tired than before (which was masked by the coffee), it’s also not a heathy choice. Steady, prolonged energy sources are the key to alertness.


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