By: Amanda Froelich,
For a variety of reasons the trend of slurping sugary, high-caffeinated drinks -such as colas, coffee, and energy drinks – has been known to not be optimal; however, now researchers are concerned this habit is to blame for slowed brain development in the youth of our culture.
Children and adults who guzzle the equivalent of three cups of coffee – three cans of energy drink or one bottle of cola – per day could be unconsciously reducing the amount of deep sleep they enjoy, thereby inhibiting brain development.
The study was founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), researchers concerned by the dramatic increase of children and adult caffeine consumption which has soared by over 70 percent during the last 30 years. Studies to research caffeine correlation with slowed brain development were carried out on rats which share similar brain patterns as humans. At the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich, researchers did come to the conclusion that caffeine intake equating to three to four cups of coffee results in reduced deep sleep, an issue for the growing child and teen.
In both humans and other mammals, it is common to display intensive sleeping patterns during puberty, for this is when the brain matures the fastest. After studying rat’s behavior on 30 mg of caffeine per day or on pure water, researchers concluded that those on caffeine showed signs of irritability, anxiety, and had reduced sleep.
Reto Huber, a lead researcher, said “The brain of children is extremely plastic due to the many connections’ and when the brain begins to mature during puberty, a large number of these connections are lost”.
For the sugar addicts and coffee guzzlers, then, this is an issue as during deep sleep the important developmental stages of growth synapses – connections between cells – are re-directed and eliminated. Deep sleep ensures key synapses extend, creating a more efficient and powerful network.
Young individuals hooked on caffeine are thereby in effect inhibiting their valuable slumber time and delaying key brain development. This finding is especially daunting as it’s predicted children’s exposure to caffeine will only grow as drink company’s continue to post record growing sales in the segment of caffeine-laden beverages.
Interestingly, the caffeine-free rats showed more brain connections at the end of the study and better behavior overall. Normally a rat matures and loses adolescent display of anxiety and being withdrawn,however the rats on caffeine did not extend into adulthood with normal characteristic, an overlooked sign of concern. All in all, it seems clear if one has the best interest in mind, reduction of fizzy, caffeinated drinks should be curbed; likewise, a greater effort should be made to eliminate the damaging soft drinks from schools and hospitals if health and education truly are the number top concerns.
In summary, results from Swiss scientists indicate a degenerative effect produced by consumption of caffeinated drinks, a concern for the growing trend of children and young adults. Delaying brain impairment and contributing to poor behavior and well being, it’s essential more research be conducted to thoroughly reveal how dangerous popular soft drinks are to health and educate the individual consumer on just what they are consuming or giving to their young.
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