According to Futurism, scientists at a Brazilian research facility administered sugary Coke to rats for two months and discovered that their brains suffered considerable harm.
High sugar content in soda and other foods is a well-known health risk, with years of studies pointing to its role in diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, dental difficulties, and a variety of other maladies. Health experts have been advocating for warning labels on foods with high sugar content.
While the argument over whether this is necessary continues, fresh evidence suggests that long-term intake of sugary beverages can impair cognition, create cellular discomfort, and result in memory problems.
How did the researchers assess the impact of sugary sodas?
The researchers tested the influence of long-term use of sugary sodas on three groups of rats, each divided by age, namely 2-month, 8-month, and 14-month. Each of these groups was further subdivided, with one receiving simply water as a drink and the other receiving sugary sodas plus water.
The rats were slaughtered on the 68th day of the experiment to allow the researchers to investigate the rat brains from the inside. Between days 57 and 67 of the trial, the researchers also put the rats through labyrinth tests before killing them.
What did the researchers discover?
The researchers discovered that the younger rats, two and eight months old, showed memory impairment in numerous maze-based tests, whereas the older rats did not.
The rats were slaughtered so that the researchers could examine their brains for oxidative stress markers such as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and dichloro-dihydrofluorescein diacetate (DCFH). Catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels, both antioxidant enzymes, were also tested.
The researchers discovered that sugary soda consumption lowered CAT activity in 8-month-old rats while increasing SOD activity in 8-month and 14-month-old rat brains when researching the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is a region of the brain that is involved in processes such as memory, attention, and judgment.
The researchers discovered that CAT activity was raised in 2- and 8-month-old rats, while DCFH levels were increased in rats of all ages while researching the hippocampus. The hippocampus, like the cortex, is involved in memory and learning, and it has been linked to diseases including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, to mention a few.
Overall, the researchers discovered that long-term sugary soda consumption increased oxidative stress and memory impairment and that younger rats appeared to be more prone to behavioral changes.
However, because rats are not humans, these findings cannot be generalized to have the same impact on humans. Nonetheless, they serve as a caution about the potential consequences of long-term intake of these sugary drinks.
The study’s findings were reported in Experimental Gerontology.