What does sugar do to your brain?

Kristin Coppens

| 2 min read

Sugar consumption can be a tricky beast, as our bodies actually need sugar to function properly. However, sugar overconsumption leads to a host of different health issues like obesity, poor memory function, depression and learning disorders, just to name a few. The average American consumes 156 pounds of sugar every year, according to the USDA. That breaks down to about 27.5 teaspoons per day, or 400 calories out of the recommended 2,000 calories per day.
The sticky sugar situation is that our brains require sugar (glucose) for proper function and correspondence to other areas of the body. The key part of that statement is that the ‘healthy’ sugar is not ‘added’ sugar. In other words, added sugars are the types of sugar that lead to negative health issues and inhibit brain function with long-term consumption.
The brain-derived neurotropic factor, or BDNF, is a chemical produced in the brain that assists our brains in forming new memories and remembering, or learning, things. Research shows that a diet high in added sugars leads to a decrease in the development of BDNF, which can, in turn, lead to health issues like dementia and depression. When a person chronically consumes added sugars, BDNF creation is lowered, which then contributes to insulin resistance, which leads to Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, ultimately leading to a host of additional problems.
Another side effect of chronic added sugars consumption is obesity or, more specifically, overeating. When the body receives too much sugar as a part of its diet, the brain loses the ability to tell you when to stop eating, thus leading to overeating and weight gain.
This video, done by TED-Ed, provides an easy to understand explanation with analogies to present what this over consumption of sugar is going to our body and our well-being. In conclusion, I agree with the Cookie Monster, a cookie is a sometimes food.
Photo credit: stringy

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