Are cola drinks bad for the brain?
- The consumption of sugary drinks has increased sharply in recent decades.
- Too much consumption of cola drinks is associated with various disorders, including cognitive decline.
Sodas and other sugary drinks are too high in sugar, harm oral health, and increase the risk of weight gain. These liquids can also cause insulin resistance, or even dyslipidemia, a metabolic disorder. But they could also harm our brain health. Researchers have noted this in a study published in Experimental Gerontology.
Tests on rats
The scientific team observed the effects of colas on the behavior of rats. For about two months, they provided rodents with two types of drinks. A control group drank only water, the other two drank either only soda or a soda/water mixture. Different mazes were used to observe the effects of beverages on the cognitive health of rats. Thanks to them, the researchers were able to observe the state of their spatial memory in particular.
The behavioral tests lasted ten days, followed by autopsies of the brains of the rats, to analyze the levels of certain enzymes. The authors were particularly interested in the frontal cortex and the hippocampus: the first control “muscle coordination, and head and neck movements such as chewing and swallowing”says the Brain Institute. As for the hippocampus, it contributes to memory and our circulation in space.
Effects on memory and oxidative stress
“Consumption of cola soft drinks caused memory impairment”observe Brazilian and Polish researchers. The groups concerned were the two and eight month old rats, but not the 14 month old ones. Levels of antioxidant catalase (CAT) enzymes were lower in 8-month-old rats and higher for superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzymes in 8- and 14-month-old rats.
“Therefore, the results show that long-term consumption of soft drinks leads to memory impairment and oxidative stress.”they conclude. The latter corresponds to an attack on cells by free radicals. Other factors can cause it such as tobacco, pollution or alcohol. It can generate diseases, and premature aging of cells. “Carbonated drinks caused alterations in the oxidative system at all ages assessed”point out the authors. As far as memory is concerned, the consequences of cola vary according to age: “The youngest seem to be more susceptible to behavioral alterations related to soft drinks”, say scientists.
Drinks to limit
For a long time, the harmful effects of cola, and other sugary drinks, on health have led to dedicated recommendations. Thus, the health authorities advise to limit them as much as possible, even when they are lightened. “In any case, no more than one drink a day”warns the Eat Move program. “Prioritize water which is the only drink recommended”suggests the site. In June, Mediacities warned about the health of children under six who drink sodas. Dentists find that they suffer from early oral problems, including cavities. For young children, these drinks are definitely to be avoided.
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