Got a sweet tooth? You might want to reconsider your habit of reaching for a soda to get you through that late-afternoon slump.
Even one can of soda or glass of orange juice a day could have not-so-great effects on your brain health, according to a new study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia.
Scientists already know that high sugar consumption has been linked to Alzheimer's disease. This study focused exclusively on one sneaky way many of us consume sugar without really thinking about it: sugary drinks. Turns out this daily habit can age your brain and even worsen your memory.
Your brain on sugar.
The researchers compared data from 4,000 people who completed food questionnaires and divided them into two groups. One group contained people who consumed one or two sugary drinks each day, which included fruit juice, soda, and other soft drinks. The other group didn't drink sugary drinks. Compared to the non-sugar drinkers, those who consumed up to two sugary drinks daily had reduced brain volume, a significantly smaller hippocampus, and performed worse on memory tests.
Those who drank more than two sugary drinks daily experienced even more drastic results. Their brains aged and memory score performance was the equivalent to that of someone 11 years older. "Although we can't prove cause and effect, these data suggest that we should be cautious about drinking sugary beverages," lead author Matthew P. Pase told The New York Times.
Raising the diet soda alarm.
Could the solution be just swapping your daily soda for a diet one? Not so fast. The same researchers did a follow-up study focusing exclusively on diet sodas, and they found artificially sweetened beverages present their own problems.
People who drank at least one diet soda per day were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia, according to a statement issued by Boston University. It appears that neither diet soda nor sugary drinks are ideal for your brain. The daily habit of drinking either could have adverse long-term effects.
The researchers were careful not to claim these drinks actually damage your brain. There are a variety of other risk and behavioral factors to consider that could contribute to brain health. For example, the Boston University statement pointed out that many diabetics drink diet sodas to limit their sugar intake. This group may already be predisposed to other health problems due to their preexisting condition.
But the researchers still felt confident in suggesting these drinks probably aren't good for your brain. "It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn't seem to help," senior author and professor of neurology Sudha Seshadri said.
It might be time to look for a new go-to beverage. The Millennials might be onto something with LaCroix.