Not only is processed sugar a major problem with adults in America, but take a look around at all of the processed foods marketed right towards our children. The majority of these foods are riddled with one (or more) of the 56 different names for sugar, not to mention packed full of highly inflammatory processed oils, dyes and preservatives. Processed sugar specifically is having a greater impact on our future generations than we might realize. As they grow and develop their diet has the potential to set them up for a life of health and longevity or quite the opposite. Keep reading to find out how processed sugar is harming our kiddos.

1Intense Cravings

As we have mentioned before, sugar is highly addictive. In fact, according to recent studies, it is 8x more addictive than cocaine. This is due to the fact that when our kids are repeatedly consuming sugar in its many forms, it leads to a prolonged dopamine release which over-stimulates the brain’s reward pathway just like that of cocaine, tobacco and morphine.

2Changes in Brain Structure

New research is showing that kiddos and young adults who consume high sugar diets develop the same brain deficits seen in children with early life stress. This means that a high sugar diet at a young age increases the risk of psychiatric disorders and long-lasting molecular changes in the brain.

3Anxiety & Depression

Consuming copious amounts of sugar interferes with the brain’s ability to keep our mood stable. As an adult, you are probably familiar with the sugar “high” after eating a sugary treat or beverage and then the sugar “crash” 20-30 minutes later. These spikes and falls in blood sugar deeply correlate with our mood which can cause irritability, tension and feelings of panic. A new study shows that adolescents that consume a diet high in fructose can worsen their anxiety or depression.

4Memory & Learning Impairment 

In 2012, UCLA produced a study that found a diet high in fructose and low in DHA (healthy fat) reduced synaptic activity in brain cells which literally slows down how fast the brain can think, react and absorb information.

Luckily we don’t have to deprive our kiddos of all things sweet and delicious. Some healthy options for replacing processed sugar include: monk fruit sweetener, coconut sugar, raw local honey, stevia, 70% or greater dark chocolate, cacao nibs and chicory root syrup.