It’s refreshing to kick back, grab your favorite beverage and simply relax every once in a while. Summer is coming back around and you’ll be sure to see lemonades, iced teas, smoothies and other drinks galore. It’s often difficult to deny every opportunity you get to enjoy a cold, sweet beverage at the poolside, sports event or concert, especially when people say you’ll be happier after drinking something sweet, but is it true? A study finds something different.

How Rats React To Sugary Drinks

Sugar has been under the microscope hundreds of times before now, but it simply continues to receive flack for the lack of nourishment it provides. In fact, sugar often does damage above and beyond simply being void of beneficial micronutrients. Researchers Margaret Morris and Jayanthi Maniam studied female rats and their offspring for a case in which a group of rats was provided a drinkable solution containing a lot of sugar.

For the experiment, half the rat litters were given normal nesting environments two to nine days after birth, and the other half were given limited nesting environments. This was to create one control set of rats through which to examine early-life stress. After this segment of the experiment was concluded, all rats were returned to regular, healthy nesting environments until they were fully weaned.

At this point, the rats were again split in half, with half receiving regular low-fat food and water. The other half were given food, water and a drinkable solution containing 25 percent sugar. All in all, there were four groups of rats studied. There were rats with a regular diet and weren’t subjected to stress, rats without stress and a diet with the sugar option, rats exposed to stress early on and rats with stress exposure and the sugar option. The rats were then re-examined once they were all about 15 weeks old.

The Real Relationship between Stress And Sugar

To the researchers’ surprise, rats that were exposed to early-life stress but without the sugar option produced similar brain scans to the rats who were not stressed early on, but had the sugar option in their diet. Researchers Morris and Maniam placed a particular emphasis on the hippocampus, which is a primary region of the brain responsible for stress and memory.

What this started to mean for the research results is that consuming too many sugary beverages can create a stressful effect on your brain. As the study’s results were formulated, the researchers commented that consuming sugary beverages too early in life can affect an individual’s ability to recover well from a stressful situation.

How Sugary Drinks Affect Brains And Nerves

Even more interestingly, Maniam and Morris found that a gene promoting the growth of nerves was down-regulated by both sugar and stress. This seems to suggest there are far more implications of sugar consumption than have yet been discovered. As mentioned earlier, sugar is often critiqued for its inability to provide substantial nutritional merit, but it seems there are discoveries yet to be made and applied. Mothers and fathers are wise to steer their children clear of sugar often, in order to help promote growth for the nerve-building gene mentioned in the study.

While the research was not considered “conclusive”, there’s no doubt it illustrated a powerful parallel between poor food choices and negative results. Too much of anything can result in unwanted effects. It is not to say all foods and drinks with sugar are always bad, but placing limits on how much you (or your children) consume is simply for the best. Plus, when you consume fewer desserts and treats in general, this means you’ll appreciate each one that much more!

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