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Sugar May Affect Memory and Stress Levels

Feb 23, 2016

By Dean George

It’s hardly a secret that exposure to sugar is bad for teeth, but one recent study hints that habitually consuming sugar may affect more than our teeth and waistline: it may also impair memory and how well we handle stress.


A new Australian study at the University of South Wales found that chronic sugar consumption may affect the brain’s emotional behavior and cognitive functions. Specifically researchers have said that the changes wrought by consuming too much sugar may be worse for young people than adverse experiences they may be exposed to early in life.

The study focused on youth consumption of sugar because the nine to 16-years-old age group typically consumes more sugary drinks than adults. Also, early life stress experienced by this age group increases their risk of poor mental health and psychiatric disorders as an adult.

As previously written in Agent Straight-Talk and Dental Wire, earlier studies have indicated that diets high in sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and sucrose (cane sugar) can affect both our oral and general health.

The new study revealed for the first time that regular doses of sugar may elevate the stress hormone cortisol to levels comparable to when youth experience such traumatic events as emotional abuse, domestic violence, witnessing a serious injury or bereavement.

If true, consuming too much sugar could reduce brain volume and cause anxiety just as traumatic experiences do. In other words, early life stress or consuming sugared drinks elevate cortisol levels that may affect how well a person handles a stressful situation.

During the Australian team’s research, four groups of rats were studied: one group was kept stress-free, a second group drank a 25-percent sugar solution and was kept stress free, a third group was exposed to stress and drank only water, and the fourth group was exposed to stress and drank the sugar solution only.

Researchers found that the second and fourth groups saw similar changes in the part of the brain that affects memory and stress. Researchers believe if high doses of sugar affect humans as found in the rat study, reducing sugar consumption for young people could benefit both their learning ability and improve their ability to handle stress.

Sources: dailymail.co.uk
Photo source: orig06.deviantart


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