You instinctively know that sugar isn’t great for your kid, because your own mom must have had a good reason for not letting you drink Coke for breakfast every morning. But according to some new research, it may be even worse than you (or she) realized: sugar might have the same effect on their brain as psychological trauma.
The study, conducted by Australian and Indian neuroscientists, set out to determine something completely different — namely, could foods high in sugar and fat help heal a stress-damaged hippocampus? That’s the part of the brain that consolidates your short and long term memories and is responsible for your sense of direction, and when it’s exposed to stress it can result in things like PTSD. Working with newborn rats whose hippocampi were damaged by stress related to poor nests, they exposed different groups to diets with various amounts of sugar and fat and discovered the exact opposite of their hypothesis was true.
It turns out, sugar as well as stress reduced neurogenesis and neuroplasticity by 40 percent — basically hindering the ability for brain cells in the hippocampus to grow and learn new things. Which means that sugar consumption may lead to psychiatric disorders just like stress does. And, while the findings still need to be replicated in humans, the authors note that limiting consumption of “sugar-sweetened beverages across the community may be an effective way to curtail the burden of psychiatric disorders.” All the more reason to not let your own kid drink Coke for breakfast.
Now call your mother and thank her for raising you right.