It is well known that soft drinks and sweets contain large amounts of sugar. But in case you didn’t know: Many other foods turn out to be sugar bombs as well. Which not only increases the risk of tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. A recent study shows that sugar-rich diet can lead to memory problems within a short time.
A research team from the University of New South Wales, Australia, fed rats with foods of different composition. For example, one group of animals was given a diet that was particularly high in sugary and fatty foods, which in its composition corresponded to human junk food (few fruits and vegetables, but many soft drinks and ready meals). Only a week later, these animals showed clear deficits in tests that were used to check their spatial memory. "In addition, they had inflammation in the hippocampus, which plays a central role in this brain function," explains study director Margaret Morris. The main problem she sees above all is the increased sugar value in junk food. Animals that were actually given a rat-compatible, healthy mixed diet, performed similarly poorly in the memory tests, if sugar water was served as a drink.
The brain metabolism of rats resembles that of humans; it’s quite logical that one must suspect negative effects of sugar-rich foods and drinks. It is well known that elevated blood sugar levels can contribute to inflammation.
There are good reasons for consumers to pay attention to the sugar content in their food. But that's not easy, as the Hamburg nutritionist Annette Sabersky emphasizes: “You simply do not notice that many foods are full of sugar - you can often not even taste it."
A portion of ketchup of 30 grams contains three pieces, a portion of crunchy muesli eleven and a half and a glass of grape juice even 18 pieces of sugar cubes. Classic hamburgers as well as salami also contain large quantities of sugar.
However, the sugar content in special foods for children is particularly dramatic because the taste preferences acquired during younger years remain later as well. “Children who get addicted to sweets, usually remain so as adults, “ warns Sabersky.
A way for parents to protect their children from over-sugared foods would be reading labels for extremely high-sugar and high-fat products and ruling them out of child’s diet. Sabersky therefore recommends calibrating children at an early stage for natural tastes and unprocessed foods and incorporating them from the start when it comes to eating.
Above all, parents should start from themselves and give example. "If you treat yourself to a bag of chips with a coke while watching TV," says Sabersky, "then the child finds it normal and does it". But that would also be the case if parents ate vegetables or whole-grain muesli with natural yoghurt.