Can Sugary Drinks Damage Your Brain?

Sugary soda drinks have been linked to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, and increased body fat. Still, almost half of Americans drink soda and sugary fruit drinks on a daily basis, and 184,000 deaths are associated with soft drinks annually. Researchers are hoping the newest study on sugary drinks will curb our nation’s addiction.

Can Drinks with Sugar Damage The Brain

The study from the neuropharmacology lab at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia analyzed proteins in the brains of rats after consuming sugary drinks. For the study, researchers gave 24 rats either water or a water solution with 10% sugar for 26 days. After the 26 days, all the rats were given only water for seven days. The rats that had the water sugar solution were hyperactive, which is often a sign of something unusual in the brain.

The Relationship to Alzheimer’s

Upon examination, scientists found that 20% of the proteins (which amounts to hundreds of proteins) in the brain related to decision-making were altered after consuming a sugary drink. Of those changed proteins, 30% are related to cancer, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s.

A similar study was completed in 2007 in the United States with similar findings. After a 26 week period, the rats that consumed sugar on a regular basis had worse learning and memory retention than those that had only water.

Further Studies Will Determine Why Sugar Changes Proteins

The change in proteins was more than researchers anticipated and more work is needed to determine exactly why these changes occurred. “The results are telling us that sugar exposure has the potential to alter a lot of diverse biological processes and play a role in neurological disorders – much more than we expected,” says lead researcher Jane Franklin. “We can’t say from this work that these changes are causing the associated diseases, but it’s a warning that we need to look more closely at the link.”

Will this new study encourage you to break your sugary drink habit? Why or why not? 

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