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Sugar's Affects on your Child's Brain

Posted: August 7, 2019
By: Alyssa Quimby, intern, & Dr. D

Did you know what excess sugar does not only have a negative impact on your child’s cardiac health and waistline, but there are some recent studies on how sugar can negatively impact your child’s brain and memory function??

A study done by the University of Southern California found that a large amount of sugary drinks consumed during childhood will cause metabolic imbalances and have negative impacts on short term memory capabilities in adulthood. Another study conducted at UCLA on rats in 2012, showed that the more fructose the rats consumed, the slower the brain function and brain activity. Sugar causes inflammation in the brain, and this inflammation slows down cognitive function. Over time, this decreased cognitive function will negatively impact a person’s ability to focus and their ability to form memories. 

With extreme levels of sugar consumption, it can actually cause interferences with the neurotransmitters in the brain and these neurotransmitters are responsible for stabilizing moods. Without the ability to stabilize mood, this can lead to depression or anxiety symptoms in children. In a brain imaging study, elevated blood glucose dramatically impacts someone’s ability to process emotion. This can even be shown to impact healthy young people’s brains. A study in 2017 published in Scientific Journals, found that those with higher sugar consumption were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder than those with lower sugar intake.

So how much is too much?? Any added sugars consumed over 4 tablespoons per day is considered unhealthy for children. To put this in perspective, the average adult in America eats approximately 22 tablespoons of added sugars everyday! Try supplementing those sugar cravings with fresh fruit to give the brain the glucose it needs to function optimally without going overboard!  Or sweeten with healthier options like agave, evaporated cane juice, or maple syrup.

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