A recent rat study suggests that prolonged cola consumption may impair memory and cause oxidative stress in the brain. After 68 days of consuming cola-based soft drinks, the researchers from the University of Southern Santa Catarina in Brazil discovered that biological stress markers were dramatically elevated in the rats’ brains, which had an impact on their behavior.
In a controlled lab setting, a research team sought to comprehend how the drinks might impact mice’ brains. High consumption has been linked in the past to illness risk and cognitive decline.
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There were two groups of rats. The other control group only drank water, whereas one consumed soft beverages at will with access to water if desired. They were kept on this cycle for 67 days before being murdered for the purpose of studying the brain tissue on day 68. In order to find any changes between the soft drink and control groups, the rats were also put through a number of maze tests that assess spatial memory and behavior before being killed.
Soft drinks reduced memory function and decreased maze test performance in young (2 and 8-month-old) rats, although this impact was not present in older rats. The cola-drinking rats of all ages had higher levels of oxidative stress markers in their tissues, indicating that biological changes were taking place, but the younger rats were more vulnerable to behavioral changes as a result.
The results are consistent with earlier research suggesting that consumption of soft drinks is linked to neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits, and that greater levels of oxidative stress are substantially associated with an increased risk of dementia.
Although high-sugar diets have been associated with comparable outcomes, the rats who drank soft drinks did not exhibit greater blood glucose levels, suggesting that another mechanism may be at work in this situation.
Only male rats were examined in this study because the authors are aware that there might be variations between the sexes. Future studies should include both sexes and look for any variations because high sugar intake is one of the dietary risk factors that affects both men and women differently.
Therefore, even while we may not yet be able to say for certain whether the consequences are the same in people, it might be time to put down the can of coke and opt instead for some plain, non-brain-melting water.
The research was published in Experimental Gerontology.