How sugar dumbs our young adults

How sugar dumbs our young adults

A University of Southern California research group has shown that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence impairs performance on a learning andmemory task during adulthood.

The group showed that the resulting changes to the gutmicrobiome may well be driving the impaired performance. In separate experiments they found similar memory deficits when bacteria, called Parabacteroides, were added to the microbiomes of the control mice that had not consumed daily sugar.

Emily Noble, Assistant Professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences said, “early life sugar increased Parabacteroides levels, and the higher the levels of Parabacteroides, the worse the animals did in the task. We found that the bacteria alone was sufficient to impair memory in the same way as sugar, but it also impaired other types of memory functions as well."

Young Americans derive the majority of their empty calories from fizzy soft drinks, breakfast cereals, bought fruit juice and smoothies, refined foods and jams and honey.

The researchers used an 11 per cent sugar solution a day with the normal meal also provided to the control group.

"Early life sugar consumption seems to selectively impair their hippocampal learning and memory," said Noble adding that future research is needed to better identify specific pathways by which this gut-brain signalling operates.

"The question now is how do these populations of bacteria in the gut alter the development of the brain?" Noble said. "Identifying how the bacteria in the gut are impacting brain development will tell us about what sort of internal environment the brain needs in order to grow in a healthy way."

Go to: 20 links between sugar and cancer



  1. Emily E. Noble, Christine A. Olson, Elizabeth Davis, Linda Tsan, Yen-Wei Chen, Ruth Schade, Clarissa Liu, Andrea Suarez, Roshonda B. Jones, Claire de La Serre, Xia Yang, Elaine Y. Hsiao, Scott E. Kanoski. Gut microbial taxa elevated by dietary sugar disrupt memory function. Translational Psychiatry, 2021; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41398-021-01309-7


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2021 Research
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