Sugar and Adolescent Memory

Frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence is very dangerous, American scientists noted.

In a rodent model, it was shown that frequent consumption of sweets decreases learning performance and weakens the process of memorization in adulthood.

Changes in the gut bacteria Parabacteroides may be the key to sugar-induced memory impairment, Medical Express reports. Researchers found that sugar consumed at an early age increases the level of Parabacteroides. The higher the level of Parabacteroides, the worse the animals performed on memory tests. The hippocampus—the brain’s memory center—still develops in late adolescence, the researchers noted.

Sugar and Adolescent Memory

As part of the experiment, researchers gave young rats regular food and an 11% sugar solution. This sugar solution is comparable to today’s sugar-containing drinks. The animals then passed a memory test assessing episodic contextual memory. This test involved memorization of the context where the animals had seen a familiar object. Researchers found that rats consuming sugar at an early age had impaired context recognition.

Another test assessed basic recognition memory, a memory function independent of the hippocampus, implying the ability of animals to recognize what they have seen previously. In this task, it turned out that sugar no longer affected this type of animal memory. Additional analyses showed that heavy sugar consumption led to an increase in the concentration of Parabacteroides in the intestinal microflora. When researchers artificially increased the concentration of these bacteria in animals that had never consumed sugar, both hippocampal-dependent and hippocampal-independent memory systems were impaired.

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