Here's How Beverage Options Affect Teen Brains!

Teens' brains are still developing, so the choices they make about what to put in their bodies are crucial. At local restaurants, parties, and their own homes, adolescents are constantly making decisions about which drinks to consume. We've rounded up research that shows how different beverages affect teen brains. Arm them with this information to help them make the best choices! 

Alcohol: Teens know that adults don't want them to drink alcohol, but they may not be aware of the long-lasting effects alcohol can have on their brains. Consuming alcohol as a teenager can cause changes to the region of the brain that controls learning and memory, and slows down the cerebral cortex as it works to process information from their senses. It can also cause high blood pressure, decreased heart rate, and increased urges to urinate. 

Chances are that teens would probably choose having a better memory and being able to learn efficiently instead of a Solo cup filled with beer. Talk to teens about the effects of alcohol on their brains. They may not fully understand that their decision to drink as a teenager could result in serious side effects later in life. One effective method for helping teens abstain from alcohol is by pointing out the benefits of staying sober and providing strategies to handle peer pressure.

Soda: It may be hard for teens to say no to soda if they like sugar, considering there are nearly 12 teaspoons in a Coke! But soda has zero nutritional value and is packed with calories that don’t make you feel full. That means teens will be eating a lot more calories throughout the day than their body needs. Soda can lead to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. 

If that doesn’t sound bad enough, the way soda affects the brain is even worse. Drinking soda may cause memory problems. A recent study also showed that soda and other sugary beverages can reduce the brain's response to stress. This may sound like a good thing, but suppressing emotions, especially while the brain is developing, can actually lead to physical stress on the body such as high blood pressure and heart disease. In another study, researchers found that soda may even be linked to violence in young people. These effects just don’t seem worth a fizzy glass of the sugary stuff.

If your teen loves soda, challenge them to choose healthier alternatives for one week. Each day of that week, ask them to take stock of how they felt throughout the day. Chances are that they'll feel a lot better! 

Energy Drinks: Usually packed with sugar and tons of caffeine, energy drinks can affect teen brains differently than adults'. Studies show that energy drinks are linked with poor mental health and substance abuse.

That's rightdrinking Red Bulls can actually lead to depression in teens! Energy drinks contain a lot more caffeine than soda and other soft drinks, so they are more likely to cause side effects like nervousness, difficulty concentrating, and insomnia. 

Teens very often choose these beverages to stay awake and alert. Instead of relying on these drinks, encourage them to get a good night's sleep. Check out our tips to help teens get the ultimate slumber

The best option for your teen's brain health may seem like the most boring, but water can be spiced up by adding fresh fruits and veggies like strawberries, pears, and cucumbers. Other great options are drinks you make in your own kitchen. Try making homemade juices and iced teas together! 

For more healthier food options for teens, check out our April cover story "Make Over My Meal!"