We all know that cola and lemonade aren’t great for our waistline or our dental health, but our new study on rats has shed light on just how much damage sugary drinks can also do to our brain.
The changes we observed to the region of the brain that controls emotional behaviour and cognitive function were more extensive than those caused by extreme early life stress.
It is known that adverse experiences early in life, such as extreme stress or abuse, increase the risk of poor mental health and psychiatric disorders later in life.
The number of traumatic events (accidents; witnessing an injury; bereavement; natural disasters; physical, sexual and emotional abuse; domestic violence and being a victim of crime) a child is exposed to is associated with elevated concentrations of the major stress hormone, cortisol.
There is also evidence that childhood maltreatment is associated with reduced brain volume and that these changes may be linked to anxiety.
Looking at rats, we examined whether the impact of early life stress on the brain was exacerbated by drinking high volumes of sugary drinks after weaning.
[...] We found that chronic consumption of sugar in rats who were not stressed produced similar changes in the hippocampus as seen in the rats who were stressed but not drinking sugar. Early life stress exposure or sugar drinking led to lower expression of the receptor that binds the major stress hormone cortisol, which may affect the ability to recover from exposure to a stressful situation.
[...] The changes in the brain induced by sugar are of great concern given the high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, with particularly high consumption in children aged nine to 16 years. If similar processes are at play in humans to what was found in our rat study, reducing the consumption of sugar across the community is important.
The fact that drinking sugar or exposure to early life stress reduced the expression of genes critical for brain development and growth is of great concern. While it is impossible to perform such studies in humans, the brain circuits controlling stress responses and feeding are conserved across species.Quite troubling. I'm glad we decided to simply not have soda in the house when we adopted our kids. If it's not in the cupboard, it can't be consumed.
Sure, they still drink sodas on the occasional night out, but in much more limited quantities.
From Raw Story.