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You’ve heard all about the best drinks for your brain…
But what’s the point of drinking these brain-boosting beverages if you’re just going to turn around and undo all the good by drinking something that damages your brain?
Because here’s the thing…
Just like there’s a long list of brain-boosting beverages that improve your memory, enhance your thinking and reasoning skills, and reverse age-related brain shrinkage, there are just as many that do the opposite…
These drinks mess with your memory, reduce your brain volume and shrink your hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for learning and memory).
So what brain-damaging beverages have you been drinking? Probably more than you realize…
Sugar sucks the life out of your brain
You already know that eating too much sugar is bad for you, so you’ve probably cut back on desserts and sugary snacks. However, sweetened beverages tend to be the last sugary stronghold in the diets of otherwise healthy eaters. Why?
Well, you don’t always think about how much sugar you’re getting in a glass of your favorite fruit juice, lemonade, iced tea or coffee drink. But many of these drinks contain just as much sugar as soda. And all of them could contribute to rapid brain aging…
A recent study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that people who drink more than two sugary drinks of any type per day have reduced overall brain volume, poorer episodic memory and a shrunken hippocampus. All of these traits not only reduce your cognitive abilities in the short-term, but put you at risk for serious cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease in the long-term. It’s also why Alzheimer’s is now being referred to by some as type 3 diabetes. (Read here to discover what blood sugar, Alzheimer’s and cancer have in common.)
So if you’re stalling when it comes to cutting sugar out of your drink selection, it’s time to quit cold turkey… or at least cut back substantially. And don’t think you can cheat and replace your favorite sugary beverage with artificially-sweetened alternatives either. Those are even worse…
In fact, a recent study published in the journal Stroke demonstrated the terrible toll artificially-sweetened beverages take on your brain too….
In this study, researchers found that people who drank at least one diet soda per day were three times more likely to suffer from two of the scariest brain diseases — stroke or dementia. Yikes!
Saying goodbye to sugary beverages
Hopefully, for your brain’s sake, you’ve already started limiting sugary beverages in your diet (and cutting artificially-sweetened beverages out completely). But if you haven’t, here are a few tips that can help make the transition easier:
- Make your water more enticing. The beverage you should be drinking the most of every day is water. But plain old water gets boring, so try playing around with fruit and herb-infused water. Here are some recipes to get you started.
- Make the most of your fruit juices. Fruit juice is high in sugar, so when you do decide to drink it, you should choose juices with a lot of health benefits that outweigh sugar’s negative effects. Blueberry and pomegranate juice are both great choices because they’re packed with antioxidants that benefit your brain.
- Look at soda as dessert. Life isn’t fun if you deprive yourself too much, so it’s okay to have the occasional soda. When you do, look at it as dessert. You know you shouldn’t be indulging in desserts every single night, so don’t do that with soda either.
- Select your sweeteners carefully. When you do drink sweetened beverages, avoid processed sweeteners (like high-fructose corn syrup) and artificial sweeteners (like aspartame and sucralose). It’s always better to choose something made with natural cane sugar than processed or artificial sweeteners. But, if possible, choose drinks sweetened with natural sugar substitutes like stevia and monk fruit, which actually have some health benefits.
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Is soda bad for your brain? (and is diet soda worse?) — MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
P. Pase, et al. “Sugary beverage intake and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease in the community.” — Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2017.
P. Pase, et al. “Sugar- and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Incident Stroke and Dementia.” — Stroke, 2017.