There’s plenty of research out there showing that sugary drinks can contribute to hyperactivity, obesity, heart problems, and diabetes. We already know that. But new research might make you pause the next time you grab a sugary drink from the fridge- or give your kids soda instead of water.
We know what sugar can do to your body. But what about your brain? It’s a really good question- and you need to pay close attention to the answer! In recent laboratory studies in Sydney, Australia, it was found that hundreds of proteins in the brain were altered in rats that consumed sugar water instead of plain water. In fact, there were more changes seen in these proteins than in rats given caffeine!
The most worrisome part? A significant number of these altered proteins are known to play a role in cellular lifespan, and 30% of these proteins are linked to conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and cancer. If sugary drinks can play a role in the development of neurological disorders, that’s one more really good reason to choose water instead of soda or sugary juices!
A research study at Connecticut College showed that high-sugar foods can stimulate the brain in the same way drugs do. In a study with rats, Oreos actually activated more neurons in the brain’s pleasure center than cocaine or morphine did! So why is this significant? By showing that high-fat and high-sugar foods can be addictive, this may be able to shed some light on addictive eating habits in humans- and may give parents another good reason to limit sweets.
It’s important to note that they did not compare Oreos directly with morphine or cocaine. The results simply showed the similarity of the animals’ reactions and supported the theory that high-fat and high-sugar foods can have very addictive qualities. Similar results would likely have been obtained by using ANY high-fat/ high-sugar food, but Oreos were used because they are so popular (America’s favorite cookie!).
If given a choice, I would certainly give my child a package of cookies instead a bag of cocaine- but I will definitely be limiting the number of cookies from now on!
Researchers at the University of Utah found that when mice were fed a diet where 25% of the calories came from added sugar, the mortality rate of female mice doubled.
Let’s consider the equivalent amount of added sugar in our own diets. “Added sugar” means sugar that comes from processed foods, not sugar that is naturally in non-processed foods like fruit. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to add those calories- for a person who normally eats a healthy diet, it is the equivalent of adding three cans of sweetened soda a day. Approximately 13-25% of Americans currently consume a diet with at least 25% added sugar.
The mouse experiments lasted for about 8 months, and 35% of the female mice on sugar-added diets died during that time, in comparison to 17% of the female control mice. (The average mouse lifespan is about two years.) While males on sugar-added diets did not show an increase in mortality rates, they were less dominant and produced 25% fewer offspring than males on the control diet.
As more tests are developed to understand the impact of potential toxins in our food and environment, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of the chemicals and additives we encounter every day are scrutinized further. In the meanwhile, limiting extra sugar might not be a bad idea… just saying.