Hidden Sources of Sugar

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Reduce your sugary drink intake to increase brain health.

Sugar awareness is not a new concept. We’ve known for years that large amounts of sugar = bad for bods. But we now also have confirmation that sugar can hurt your brain, too.

The sneaky sugar in drinks

Cheeky sugar often goes by other names, including high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is 55% fructose and 45% glucose.

The science

Studies in animals have linked high fructose intake with insulin resistance in the brain, and a reduction in brain function, memory, learning, and the formation of brain neurons. A study using rats discovered that eating a large amount of sugar increased brain inflammation and impaired memory. Rats that ate a diet with 11% HFCS had worse results than those who ate 11% regular sugar.

And the human research?

Yeah, further studies in humans are needed to confirm this hypothesis, but the results of the rat study suggest that a high intake of fructose from sugary drinks has negative effects on the brain, beyond the effects of sugar.

And… the good news? 

The good news is that now that you have this info you can limit your sugary drink intake to reduce the negative effects on your brain.

Drink this, not that

  • Read the ingredients on your store-bought juice for hidden sources of sugar

  • Cut down on your soda habit and swap for carbonated water. 

  • Try kombucha or water kefir for a fizzy, low-sugar alternative (but again, check the label as some brands will sneak some sugar in there). 

  • Choose unsweetened dairy products.

You can still have your [soft drink of choice] and drink it too, just have it less often. 

FOR THE NERDYSweet, sweet science [source: National Institute for Biotech]