The negative effects of sugar on the brain

 



The brain consumes the most energy of any organ in the human body, and glucose is its primary fuel source. But what happens when the brain is subjected to an excess of sugars in the typical American diet? More is not always better in this case.

Excess sugar in the brain impairs both cognitive and self-control abilities. A small amount of sugar stimulates a desire for more for many people. In the reward center of the brain, sugar has drug-like effects. Scientists believe that sweet foods, like salty and fatty foods, can cause addiction-like effects in the human brain, leading to loss of self-control, overeating, and subsequent weight gain.

This stimulus led early humans to calorie-rich foods, which helped them survive when food was scarce. However, this primitive drive is now contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemics. The behavioral and neurobiochemical characteristics of substance abuse and overeating are strikingly similar, and the concept of food addiction is gaining traction among scientists.

Sugar's Reward Initial response       

In humans, high-glycemic foods have been shown to activate reward-related brain regions and cause more intense feelings of hunger than low-glycemic foods. Foods that cause an increase in blood glucose levels produce a stronger addictive drive in the brain.

The glycemic index (GI), a measure of how certain foods convert to sugar in the body, was used to test this process, and eating a high-GI meal elicited greater brain activity in regions involved in eating behavior, reward, and craving, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sugar High dependency

Additional brain activity studies have provided evidence to support the idea that overeating alters our brain's reward system, which then drives overeating. This same process is thought to be at the root of addiction tolerance.

Over time, more of the substance is required to achieve the same level of reward. According to research, overeating leads to a decreased reward response and a progressively worsening addiction to low-nutrient foods high in sugar, salt, and fat.

According to a study published in the journal PLoS One, sweet foods can be more addictive than cocaine.

Despite the fact that the study was conducted on animals, researchers discovered that intense sweetness can outperform cocaine reward, even in drug-sensitized and -addicted individuals.

How Does Sugar Affect Memory?     

Excess sugar is harmful throughout the body. Even a single instance of high blood glucose levels can be harmful to the brain, resulting in slowed cognitive function and memory and attention deficits.

According to some research, excessive sugar consumption causes inflammation in the brain, resulting in memory problems. Inflammatory markers were found in the hippocampus of rats fed a high sugar diet but not in those fed a standard diet, according to a 2016 study published in Behavioral Brain Research.

The good news is that the inflammatory damage caused by sugar may not be permanent.

According to a 2017 study published in the journal Appetite, the memory damage caused by sugar consumption can be reversed by following a low-sugar, low-GI diet.

Furthermore, a 2015 study published in the journal Nutrients discovered that reducing sugar consumption and supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin improves working memory.

Sugar Has Mood Effects          

Sugar has an effect on one's mood as well. According to a brain imaging study, elevated blood glucose impairs the ability of healthy young people to process emotion.                                                  

Another study published in Diabetes Care discovered that people with type 2 diabetes felt more sad and anxious during acute hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar).

One of the largest studies to link sugar to depression—an analysis of dietary consumption and mood of 23,245 people enrolled in the Whitehall II study—discovered that higher levels of sugar consumption were associated with a higher incidence of depression.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports in 2017, discovered that those who consumed the most sugar were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder than those who consumed the least sugar.

Intake of sugar impairs mental capacity.

Blood vessels are harmed by elevated blood glucose levels. Diabetes' vascular complications are primarily caused by blood vessel damage, which can lead to other issues such as damage to blood vessels in the brain and eyes, resulting in retinopathy.

Long-term diabetics show progressive brain damage, which leads to deficits in learning, memory, motor speed, and other cognitive functions.

Frequent exposure to high glucose levels reduces mental capacity, as higher HbA1c levels have been linked to a greater degree of brain shrinkage.

Even in people who do not have diabetes, higher sugar consumption is associated with lower scores on cognitive function tests. These side effects are thought to be the result of a combination of hyperglycemia, hypertension, insulin resistance, and high cholesterol.

According to additional research, a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain chemical required for the formation of new memories and learning.

According to a study published in the journal Diabetologia, lower levels of BDNF are also linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Conclusion

According to the research, any sugar added to our food is harmful. We can avoid these risks by satisfying our sweet tooth with fresh fruit rather than refined sugars.

Eating fresh fruit provides the satisfying sweetness of sugary treats with the added benefit of fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, which slow the rise of sugar in the bloodstream and block its negative effects.


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