Latest News » Sugar could affect your brain as much as stress

Drinks like soda are responsible for most of the sugar that adults consume on a daily basis.

Looking at all the ways sugar can negatively impact your health, it may not be so sweet after all. Recently, a study published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience found that high sugar intake impacts the brain in the same way as traumatic events or stress.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia studied female rats that were split into four groups. One group experienced stressful events at an early age, another consumed excessive sugar, the third was exposed to both and the control group had no exposure to stress or sugar.

The researchers found that rats that were not exposed to early stressors but later consumed sugar experienced the same changes in the hippocampus as the stress group. Both these factors affected cortisol production in the rats, which can influence how they respond to stressful situations. Sugar and stress also reduced Neurod1, an essential gene for nerve growth.

While further research is required, the study's authors worry that these findings already suggest how sugar intake can negatively impact brain development. In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda) account for one-third of added sugar consumption in the U.S. These drinks typically average nearly eight teaspoons of sugar in a 12 ounce serving. The recommended daily added sugar limit for adults is 12.5 teaspoons, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Excessive sugar intake already increases the risk of health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This new research on how it affects brain health presents yet another reason why adults should refrain from consuming too much sugar.

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