Can having a sweet tooth lead to memory relapses? The disquieting answer may be yes, according to new research showing sugar consumption is linked to memory lapses and brain inflammation in juvenile rats.
The findings suggest that adolescents may face an increased risk of suffering negative health effects from sugar-sweetened beverages.
"The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence," said Scott Kanoski, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, who helped lead the study, published online in the journal Hippocampus.
The study, which tested a total of 76 rats, found those fed large quantities of liquid solutions containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in concentrations comparable to popular sugar-sweetened beverages experienced memory problems and brain inflammation.
The researchers noted the rats had a harder time navigating mazes that tested their memory, which may be the result of the neuroinflammation in the brain, Kanoski said.
"Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability," Kanoski said.
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