Last year wasn’t only a bad one in terms of our collective mental health, it was also a bad year for healthful eating. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Americans consumed 11 million tons of sugar, with most of that coming from sports drinks, juice and soda.  With the mainstreaming of cannabis, you would think alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes would be much worse than sweet things.  But is sugar really worse for your brain than marijuana?

A recent poll of 1,000 people conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News shows that Americans think sugar is more harmful than marijuana.

When asked, “Which of the following substances is the most harmful to a person’s overall health?” 49% answered, “Tobacco,” 24% said, “Alcohol,” 15% said, “Sugar,” and only 8% answered, “Marijuana.” Another 3% said that “All” were equally harmful and 1% said, “Not sure.”

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

Research from the University of Boston claims that consuming sugar in large quantities can damage the brain and its functioning. These recent statistics show some scary results where people who consume the most sugar have poorer memory, smaller brain volume and a smaller hippocampus – the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

Sugar isn’t the only problem scientists discovered; they also found that people who drank diet sodas were at a much higher risk of developing a stroke or dementia. They were quick to point out that these findings don’t imply cause and effect, simply a correlation, which is a fancy way of saying that at the moment, diet soda can’t be blamed for these symptoms and diseases.

Historically, consuming large amounts of sugar has been linked with a plethora of health problems, including metabolic and cardiovascular diseases like obesity, heart failure and type 2 diabetes. Sugar’s effects on the brain are arecent discovery that add another warning bell to the ingredient. Maybe we should all start drinking more water?

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