Too Much Sugar: Destroying Your Brain & Body
August 15 2020
Updated on June 17, 2022
Too Much Sugar: The Effects on the Brain & Body
It is a well-known fact that by eating too many sweets and sugary treats, with not enough exercise, you begin to put on weight. But there are other side effects as well. Not many people know what happens to your brain when you eat too much sugar, or what insulin resistance is, or even why your brain needs sugar. However, here at All-American Home Care, we are committed to educating all Americans on the perils of an “overdose” on sugar, and why a healthy and carefully moderated amount is not necessarily a bad thing.
That’s right; you don’t need to cut all sugar out of your diet, just most of it. Continue reading to find out about the effects of too much sugar on your body and mind, and to also learn about simple and quick ways that you can begin to reduce the amount of sugar you consume daily, and how to get sugar out of your body and to start living the healthy lifestyle that is possible for everyone.
Sugar’s Reward Response
In today’s world, sugary, high-energy foods are abundant. It’s no longer necessary to scavenge for these delicious treats. Unfortunately, our brains are still functionally very similar to those of our predecessors, and they need sugar like no other animal on earth.
Sugar and the brain are interconnected since Mesolimbic dopamine, a reward system in the brain, is triggered when we eat sweet things like candy or cakes. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter secreted by neurons that can serve as a positive signal. When the reward system is activated, it encourages us to engage in certain behaviors again.
Sugar’s “hits” of dopamine encourage quick learning to preferentially locate more sugary meals in your environment. Foods that raise blood glucose levels increase the brain’s desire for addiction.
Sugar addiction, unlike many other types of substance abuse or behavior compulsions, is quite easy to identify. Sugar addiction is characterized by excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages. The person may eat incessantly, eat to avoid boredom, and become hyper and crash as a result of high glucose energy in the body.
Additional research on brain activity has bolstered the theory that overeating affects our brain’s reward system, which in turn drives overeating. A similar process is also thought to be responsible for addiction’s tolerance.
As time passes, more and more of the drug is needed to get the same high. In studies, it’s been shown that eating too much leads to a decreased reward response and an increasing dependence on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.
How Sugar Impacts Memory
Excess sugar has negative effects on the body. Sugar and brain health are co-related. Even one instance of high glucose in the bloodstream can lead to slow cognitive function and memory and attention problems.
Brain inflammation due to a high-sugar diet can lead to memory problems, which proves that the brain and glucose are interlinked. According to research published in the journal Behavioral Brain Research that took place in 2016, when rats were fed high sugar diets, they developed inflammation in the hippocampus, but not when they were fed a conventional diet.
Sugar’s inflammatory harm may not be permanent, though, which is a relief. A study published in the journal Nutrients in 2015 indicated that lowering sugar intake and supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin improved working memory.
Sugar Has Effects on Mood
Sugar has been shown to have a negative impact on mood. A brain-imaging study found that in healthy young adults, the ability to interpret emotions is impaired when blood glucose levels are increased.
According to research, sugar consumption has been related to depression and other poor mental health symptoms after a long period. Over time, a person’s long-term mental health may be affected by their consumption of added sugars, whereas a reduced intake of added sugars may be linked to greater mental health.
Multiple recent studies have identified several possible reasons for the negative effects of consuming added sugars, such as:
- Blood pressure and inflammation have been related to depression as a result of consuming added sugar.
- Diets high in sugar can cause blood sugar to rise and fall rapidly, resulting in hormonal swings and changes in mental state.
- Sugar addiction is connected to depression because of sugar’s impact on dopamine levels (the brain’s pleasure and reward chemical).
A study published in Diabetes Care indicated that persons with type 2 diabetes experienced heightened levels of despair and anxiety when their blood glucose levels spiked suddenly (elevated blood sugar).
How Sugar Affects the Brain
When it comes to the human brain, it’s no surprise that it consumes the most glucose-supplied energy. In the absence of glucose, the brain’s chemical messengers, the neurotransmitters, cannot function. Sugar deprivation impairs the ability of these critical cells to communicate with one another, resulting in decreased cognitive function.
A complication of diabetes, hypoglycemia (low glucose levels), can also be caused by it. Low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, or BDNF, are also found in those who consume a lot of sugar in their diets. BDNF aids in the formation of synapses, which are connections between nerve cells. Without this essential protein, the growth, development, and communication of these nerve cells are severely hindered. Multiple neurological processes begin to deteriorate when synapses are unable to interact effectively.
The brain suffers when blood sugar levels are out of balance, and this can lead to cognitive loss if the problem persists. The Diabetes Research Institute estimates that over 34 million individuals in the United States have diabetes, while the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 422 million people worldwide have the condition. You might wonder what effect diabetes and sugar consumption have on the brain.
In 2014, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed a startling association between diabetes and severe cognitive loss in middle-aged people. The findings of their study suggest that BDNF and glucose metabolism may be linked.
Some of the Key Symptoms of an Overdose on Sugar
When you consume more sugar than you should be one day, it’s not a big deal. Or even when you do it for a week straight, and possibly even a month. However, when it becomes a habit to grab a pop for lunch, and have dessert after every meal, and even start to bring sugary snacks with you in the car, eventually the problems will begin to build up.
For example, in extreme cases, overconsumption of sugar has led to insulin resistance and dementia, which both stem from the root cause of brain damage. Thus, not just your body’s health is under threat from this deeply important and relatively unknown health concern. With too much sugar, your memory can start fading, and your thinking speed can actually start slowing down as more and more sugar becomes present in your bloodstream around your brain, which has been shown to be toxic to the brain cells present there. It can even kill your brain cells.
The reason overconsumption is so bad is not that you’ve done it once or twice in a month. It’s because the amount of sugar that you are eating has become a habit, which leads to an unhealthy cycle that just breeds more and more health concerns. Additionally, careful research has been done into the amount of sugar that should be consumed by humans, and obviously, numbers do vary. However, it is important that everyone stays mindful of this health crisis. As Americans, with 100 million of our fellow countrymen afflicted by diabetes (study by the CDC, or Center for Disease Control and Prevention), this health concern is the largest struggle of our generation.
What Is Insulin Resistance, and Why Is It Important?
Insulin resistance is one of the major ailments that affect many people struggling with healthcare issues related to abnormal bloodstream and blood sugar levels in America, and over 80 million Americans are believed to be insulin resistant in 2020, once again according to the CDC.
Insulin resistance is also one of the major high blood sugar causes. When your blood sugar levels are abnormal to your unique numbers, there is more sugar in your bloodstream. This means that, when the hormone insulin attempts to pull sugar from your bloodstream and into your muscles to give you energy, it is pulling more sugar than is required from your blood and attempting to store it in your cells.
As they are programmed to do, your cells will protect themselves from this and become insulin resistant. Insulin is created by your pancreas, which will respond to the ineffectiveness of the insulin by creating and releasing into your body MORE insulin, which only makes the problem worse, and causes your body to further reject insulin.
Why Sugar Overdoses Lead to Dementia
So, what is the effect of sugar on the brain? Well, when your body digests sugar, it transforms this sugar glucose, which is your body’s primary source of energy. Your brain also requires a certain level of glucose to continue functioning, just like the rest of your body’s organs do. However, unlike your body’s other cells, your brain cells are not equipped to absorb or transform sugar. Rather, they just take it directly from the bloodstream, which can create a problem.
Now that your brain has sugar in it, insulin must use it, so your brain has the energy necessary to perform everyday mental and bodily functions- for instance, breathing, blinking, thinking, monitoring, operating, and more.
If the aforementioned lifestyle describes you, then your brain will often have a high level of sugar and, thus, insulin in it. This is basically drowning your brain in sugar, as it can’t be converted into energy (glucose). And, then, if the brain can’t get the energy it needs, this leads to brain damage and the unfortunate death of brain cells. The insulin resistance that has been developed over the years is the negative effect of what too much sugar does to your brain.
How Can You Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle?
So, you’ve read everything above, and now you’re pondering the information. How do you prevent insulin resistance and revert to the normal blood sugar levels that you should have, and can achieve? Well, by cutting back on the amount of sugar you consume every single day.
Reducing the amount of sugar you eat and drink every day involves not just eating differently, but also acting differently. Take the stairs some days instead of the elevator, if possible. Try biking to work, or to the park, or wherever you’re going instead of driving. This is a proven and effective way of how you can get sugar out of your body. Develop healthy routines such as growing a small garden in your backyard if you live in a house that supports that, or maybe in your windowsill if not. Many foods will lower your blood sugar levels fairly quickly, such as fruits and vegetables.
There are many wonderful benefits that come with eating and drinking and living healthier in general. For example, your stress levels are lowered (fatty and sugary foods have been proven to be filled with stress-inducing hormones), and so, therefore, you are sick less, meaning you can work more often, and make more money. Additionally, with lower stress levels, you actually live longer and have a lower blood sugar level, which will continually make you healthier. Getting back on a healthy cycle instead of the insulin-glucose unhealthy one that prevails when sugar is frequent in your diet will change your life.
Who Can Help?
If you now see why too much sugar is not good for your health, and you are ready to begin becoming a healthier person, be sure to have the right professionals by your side. All-American Home Care is prepared to help you out with all situations related to this topic. We have over 5 years of experience on a professional level.
Our mission is to educate all Americans about the importance of good eating and having a healthy lifestyle. We are the premier choice for Americans who are looking for ways to protect themselves and their loved ones from the downfalls of dementia. We can also equip you with ways to live as healthy of a life as possible.
Our company was founded on the idea that every patient deserves the utmost in home-care services. Founded in 2011, All-American Home Care has always strived to aid all Americans with the burdens poor health education can bring, especially to those who are not in good health due to government failings and limited education. Our team of experts provides reliable information to help you in your time of need.
Contact us today if you are ready to start taking steps towards living a healthy lifestyle.