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Consuming Too Much Sugar Can Have A Serious Effect On Your Brain

A little sugar rush isn't so innocent after all.

A little sugar rush never hurt anyone, right? Wrong!

According to a new, small study conducted by New Zealand's University of Otago, common sugars can affect the way your brain works and hinder cognitive ability.

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Researchers studied the cognitive performance of 49 people who consumed drinks containing either glucose, sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), or sucralose (artificial sweetener). The participants were tested on response times, arithmetic, and Stroop interference, which is a psychological test that measures cognitive processing.

After analyzing their performances, it was determined that those who consumed glucose or sucrose performed worse than those who consumed fructose or sucralose.

"Our study suggests that the 'sugar coma' — with regards to glucose — is indeed a real phenomenon, where levels of attention seem to decline after consumption of glucose-containing sugar," study author Mei Peng told PsyPost.

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Although it's important for the body to have glucose in order to function properly, having high levels of glucose due to the consumption of sugary drinks or food can damage body cells, assistant psychology professor Teresa Aubele, of Indiana's Saint Mary's College, explained to Psychology Today.

This can "ultimately [affect] your attention span, your short-term memory, and your mood stability," she added.

Interestingly, previous research has linked glucose consumption to improved memory, but PsyPost notes that other studies have had mixed results when analyzing the effects of glucose on cognitive abilities.

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Thus, study author Peng believes more research needs to be done going forward.

"Future research should further quantify how different brain regions change after sugar consumption — by using neuroimaging techniques," she told the site. "This will help us better understand how attention deficits arise after glucose consumption."

According to the Canadian Sugar Institute, added sugar consumption in Canada has been on the decline for the past two decades.

Although Health Canada does not have specific recommendations for sugar intake, the World Health Organization notes that for both kids and adults, it should be less than 10 per cent of total energy intake.

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