It’s natural for your brain to age over time, just like the rest of your body. However, your diet and lifestyle can also impact how quickly your brain ages. Some habits can slow the process of brain aging, while others can speed it up.
As with most food and lifestyle choices, moderation is key; you shouldn’t deprive yourself all the time, but when you habitually make bad choices, things can get risky. So, consuming high-sugar foods or drinks once in a while won’t prematurely age your brain, but regularly consuming high amounts of added sugar can contribute to complications with your brain and cognitive health (not to mention a host of other health issues).
Read on for learn about some of the beverages that may help accelerate your aging brain. And for more, check out The Worst Foods That Increase Your Risk of Dementia.
Soda can age your brain.
A 2017 study published in Alzheimer’s and dementia found that soda was associated with accelerated brain aging, and participants who drank at least one soda a day had higher instances of decreased brain volume.
Participants who regularly drank sodas also had weaker “episodic” memory, that is, longer-term recall of past events.
Many of these participants also had smaller volumes of their hippocampus, which is a part of the brain responsible for much of our memory and learning functions. Our hippocampal volume naturally decreases with age, but this study suggests that regular consumption of sugary drinks may speed up this process.
Diet sodas can also age your brain.
After reading about the effects that drinking soda can have on your brain’s aging process, your instinct might be to assume that diet soda is a better option. Unfortunately, research has also found a link between diet sodas and brain health.
A study published in Stroke found that participants who consumed one diet soda per day were almost three times more likely to develop stroke or dementia. These results are surprising and more research needs to be done, especially because the study noted that they were unable to account for some conditions that participants may have developed during the study, such as diabetes. Still, that’s reason enough to rethink if you really need to drink a diet soda every day.
Alcohol can impact your brain, even in moderation.
Most people agree that binge drinking or binge drinking can speed up the aging process in your brain. But what’s still up for debate is whether alcohol in moderation can also impact your cognition.
Current research is conflicting. Some of the world’s longest-lived people, residing in so-called Blue Zone regions, regularly drink a glass of red wine and are known to have almost no cases of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
But recent research from 2022 shows that just one or two drinks a day can negatively impact your brain. According to a study published in Naturealcohol consumption, even in moderate amounts, has been found to reduce both white matter and gray matter, which are parts of the brain responsible for different cognitive functions.
The research that exists on sodas, diet sodas, and alcohol and their relationship to the aging process of the brain can be overwhelming and, in some cases, inconclusive. How fast your brain ages is irrelevant, and living in a constant state of self-deprivation is impractical and unhealthy. But educating yourself with the best information is always a good idea, and if you want reassurance, talk to your doctor about the best ways to take care of your brain health as you age.