Carbonated soft drinks are enemies of the brain. Two new studies have shown a possible correlation between the consumption of these drinks and the greater probability of having a stroke and dementia.

Even children know that they are quite unhealthy. But that the carbonated drinks (light or not) are harmful to the health of our brain is new. This was demonstrated by two research conducted by Boston University based on data from the Framingham Heart (FHS) study.

US scientists have shown that people who consume sugary and carbonated drinks more frequently are more likely to have a poorer memory, overall smaller brain volumes as well as those of the hippocampus, the brain area that deals with memory. But there is more. The researchers also found that people who drank "light" drinks daily had a three times greater risk of developing stroke and dementia than those who did not.

Excess sugar has adverse health effects. Light alcoholic beverages are often considered as an healthier alternative than the "classic" ones. However, both sugar and consumption of artificially sweetened beverages have been linked to cardiometabolic risk factors that increase the risk of cerebrovascular disease and dementia.

In these studies, approximately 4,000 participants with an average age of 30 years were examined, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cognitive tests to measure the relationship between the intake of beverages and the volumes of the brain, as well as thought and memory. For 10 years, researchers then tracked 2,888 45-year-old participants examining the risk of a stroke and 1,484 participants over the age of 60 by examining the risk of dementia.

The first study found that those who consumed more than two sugary drinks a day (such as carbonated drinks or fruit juices) or at least three canned drinks a week had early brain aging, memory problems, reduced brain and hippocampus volume.

The second study instead was based on those who had dementia linked to Alzheimer's or had a stroke. Although apparently no correlations were found between the consumption of sugary drinks and the two diseases, the researchers underlined that those who usually drank one light drink a day had a risk at least three times higher than having a stroke or developing dementia.

According to scientists, pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension were not enough to explain their results. For example, people who most often consumed carbonated drinks were also more likely to have diabetes, which in turn increases the risk of dementia. However, even after excluding diabetics from the study, consumption of these drinks was still associated with the risk of dementia.

"Our results indicate an association between the intake of higher sugary drinks and brain atrophy, including less brain volume and poorer memory," explained Matthew Pase.

Clearly, this is not a cause-effect relationship but certainly those who consume this kind of drinks have an unhealthy lifestyle. All this contributes to a greater risk of cardiovascular and brain diseases.