The Harmful Effects of Sugar on the Brain

The Harmful Effects of Sugar on the Brain

Last update: 18 February, 2020

Scientific discussion on nutrition has changed a lot over the years. The latest research reveals that one of the worst things for a person’s overall health — obesity especially — is sugar. However, what most people don’t know is that the harmful effects of sugar also extend to the brain.

In addition to being linked to heart disease and diabetes, sugar causes all sorts of problems with our minds. In this article, you will learn about the most disturbing effects. However, before tackling this subject, we need to dispel some myths about it.

There are harmful effects of sugar?

Growing up, we were bombarded with ideals about health and nutrition that were totally false. For example, we were taught that the main risk factor for heart disease was fat consumption.

For a long time, sugar was promoted as a completely harmless substance having no ill effects on health. However, an investigation in 2016 revealed that throughout its history, the sugar industry had bribed researchers. Their objective? To hide how harmful sugar is, which we now know is linked to cancer and heart disease

It’s addictive

Sugar addiction is a real problem. It affects more and more people every day. Those affected by this disorder feel that they have to consume ever more of the substance to feel good. In fact, those who eliminate sugar from their lives experience very unpleasant side effects during the first few days.

For example, after giving up sugar, addicts may experience headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness, anxiety and stress. Luckily, these symptoms are not permanent. They only last until the body adapts to functioning without the substance.

How does this addiction work? When the body absorbs sugar, it releases a large amount of endorphins in the brain. Therefore, whenever we feel less than pleased with other aspects of our lives, we need to ingest this substance to feel good.

It causes problems with memory and comprehension

A study from the University of California about the effects of the consumption of fructose (a type of sugar found in fruits, vegetables and honey) revealed that it has a harmful effect on the formation of synapses in the brain. That is, eating a lot of fructose diminishes the brain’s ability to understand and form new connections.

Research has also shown that people who eat a lot of fructose have lower levels of BDNF. This substance (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) has a fundamental effect on our ability to generate new memories and learn new information.

Also, some studies suggest that sugar consumption may be directly related to Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the medical community is considering classifying this disease as Type 3 diabetes.

It affects our mood

Our cognitive abilities are not the only things in danger. Our moods vary in extreme ways because of glucose. Due to its effects on insulin in your body, sugar spikes can cause depression, anxiety, and sudden mood swings. 

Long term, these harmful effects of sugar can get even worse. When we ingest glucose, our brain releases serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters that makes us feel pleasure. However, the body’s supply of this substance is not infinite. Each time the brain releases serotonin, the amount in your brain decreases.

For that reason, a person who goes for long periods consuming excess sugar will find it difficult after a while to feel continuous positive emotion. 

Depression and mood swings are harmful effects of sugar

It prevents us from feeling satisfied

Lastly, recent studies discovered that glucose “hijacks” our satiety mechanism. Because of that, eating too much of this substance will make us feel hungry all the time. This is directly linked to the problems of obesity and being overweight.

The effects of sugar on oxytocin and its function in your brain is the problem. However, the consequences on your brain can be even more disturbing.  If you want to avoid the harmful effects of sugar and maintain good physical and mental health, try to reduce your sugar consumption as much as possible.





This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.