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Sugary Drinks, Diet Soda and Your Brain

Soda Can Make You Stupid, or Worse

Sometimes we find research reports on brain health that are sobering. There was a rather spooky one we just read. But we also discovered one that is positive. Here’s the tough medicine first.

 Artificial Sweeteners May Be Bad For You

 Here’s the punch line: “Daily diet soda drinkers three times more likely to develop stroke and dementia compared to those who don’t”. You might have seen that headline before. It drew a lot of publicity. Now, remember your statistics class: correlation doesn’t mean causation. Just because the years that skirt hemlines go up are also years that the stock market goes up doesn’t mean short skirts cause the stock prices to increase. It could be that other things diet soda drinkers do – or don’t do- is the reason they are more likely to have a stroke or get dementia.

 Here’s a link to a summary of the research if you want to read more. The research was done by a team from Boston University, led by a professor of neurology. They used data from the famous Framingham heart study; therefore it is solid research.

 While it could be that diet drinks aren’t causing anything and is just a coincidence, after reading that research, I’ve cut out diet drinks. I’ve seen strokes in my immediate family and they are devastating and awful. You don’t want one. And no one, absolutely no one, wants dementia.

 I went back to my old Southern favorite- sweet iced tea.

 Then I found this:

 Sugary Drinks Are Bad For You.

 “People who drank sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus”. Yikes! The hippocampus is critical to memory formation and learning. In other words, sugary beverages can make you stupid.

So much for my sweet iced tea.

 And this finding is from the same study – but didn’t seem to get nearly as much media coverage.

Where does that leave us? One of the study’s authors pointed out that water is good.  As if we didn’t know that. There is also tea – tea has many health benefits, and coffee, which also has excellent health benefits. There are also fermented beverages such as kefir that seem to be healthy.  Did you know that we sell our own, locally roasted, small-batch gourmet coffee? Now might be a good time to try some.

 Where’s the Good News?

  A large study in Australia determined that one hour of exercise a week is sufficient to reduce the odds of developing depression. (This research was performed at the Black Dog Institute, which is the best name for a medical research institution we've found.) Unchecked depression physically alters the brain. Not in a good way. While we’ve written before on how good exercise is for brain health, this is the first time we’ve seen as little as an hour a week as beneficial.

  PS: Our freshly roasted coffee isn't ground; we think grinding it just before brewing delivers the best flavor. And everyone benefits on shipping cost if you buy two or three bags each time.

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