Sugary drinks as a child may lead to memory issues in later life, study suggests

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How sugar can affect your child’s BRAIN: A diet full of sweet treats early in life can lead to memory issues, study warns

  • Researchers gave adolescent rats a drink similar to human sugary soda 
  • They then tested the rodents’ memory when they had matured to adulthood 
  • They found rats that had sugary drinks as a youngster had memory issues 
  • Researchers found the drinks alter the gut microbiome and this leads to genetic alterations in the hippocampus 

Children who drink sugary drinks may be at increased risk of memory issues in later life, according to a new study. 

American researchers gave a sugary drink to rats and then, when they were adults, gave them two memory tests to compare how they performed. 

They found the hippocampus, a region of the brain integral to memory function, was impaired in soda-fed rodents and this led to memory issues. 

The researchers believe the drink alters the gut microbiome of an individual and this in turn modifies the genes in the hippocampus impairing function.  

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American researchers gave a sugary drink to rats and then, when they were adults, gave them two memory tests to compare how they performed

American researchers gave a sugary drink to rats and then, when they were adults, gave them two memory tests to compare how they performed 

How much sugar is too much? 

The amount of sugar a person should eat in a day depends on how old they are.

Children aged four to six years old should be limited to a maximum of 19g per day.

Seven to 10-year-olds should have no more than 24g, and children aged 11 and over should have 30g or less. 

Meanwhile the NHS recommends adults have no more than 30g of free sugars a day.

Rats were given either a diet of water, or water supplemented with an equivalent to fizzy pop sold in the shops. 

‘Early life sugar consumption seems to selectively impair their hippocampal learning and memory,’ said study lead author Dr Emily Noble, at the University of Georgia.  

Analysis of the gut microbiome in the rats also revealed the consumption of sweetened drinks had had a deleterious impact. 

The sugar drinkers had larger populations of two particular species of gut bacteria: Parabacteroides distasonis and Parabacteroides johnsonii.

They gave injected bacteria into rats who had never had sugary drinks and found that they also developed hippocampus-related memory issues. 

This, the researchers believe, is evidence that the cognitive impairment from fizzy drinks is as a result of the beverage altering an individual’s gut microbiome. 

‘It was surprising to us that we were able to essentially replicate the memory impairments associated with sugar consumption not by transferring the whole microbiome, but simply by enriching a single bacterial population in the gut,’ said Dr Scott Kanoski, co-author of the study from the University of Southern California.  

Children who drink sugary drinks may be at increased risk of memory issues in later life, according to a new study

Children who drink sugary drinks may be at increased risk of memory issues in later life, according to a new study 

 The researchers then studied the genes in the brains of the rats and found they were different if they’d been fed sugary drinks.

The genes that were affected control how nerve cells transmit electrical signals to other nerve cells and how they send molecular signals internally.

While the study was performed on rats, the researchers believe the findings could also apply to humans. 

In future studies, the team hopes to determine if changing habits, such as eating a healthier diet or increasing exercise, can reverse the harm to memory caused by elevated sugar consumption earlier in life. 

The study is published in the journal Translational Psychiatry. 

The amount of sugar a person should eat in a day depends on how old they are, according to the NHS.

Children aged four to six years old should be limited to a maximum of 19g per day.

Seven to 10-year-olds should have no more than 24g, and children aged 11 and over should have 30g or less. 

Meanwhile the NHS recommends adults have no more than 30g of free sugars a day.

Consuming foods and drinks with added sugars DOUBLES fat production in the liver 

Swiss Scientists have warned that consuming foods and drinks with even moderate amounts of added sugar doubles fat production in the liver.

They found that drinking 80 grams of sugar daily – around the equivalent of two cans of Coca-Cola – caused the increase. 

Coca-Cola contains fructose and sucrose, which promote hepatic lipogenesis – the synthesis of fatty acids around the liver – even in small amounts, the experts found.  

Worryingly, production of fat in the liver is still sustained even after sugar consumption stops, the experts say, and can increase your risk of fatty liver disease and Type 2 diabetes. 

‘Eighty grams of sugar daily, which is equivalent to about 0.8 litres of a normal soft drink, boosts fat production in the liver,’ said study author Philipp Gerber of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition at UZH.

‘And the overactive fat production continues for a longer period of time, even if no more sugar is consumed.’

Fructose, or fruit sugar, is in many sweetened drinks, and is added in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, particularly in the US.

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