The unspoken dangers sugar poses to your brain
We all know that sugar is not great for our waistline or our dental health. But an Australian study has shed light on just how much damage sugar can also do to our brain.
When we talk about sugar, we do not mean only cane sugar that is white, sweet and fluffy but also the hidden sugars. When you buy a packaged food product, it's always a good idea to check the label, but checking the ingredients list can sometimes be confusing. Sugar can be disguised in many ways.
Here are 25 names to look out for: high fructose corn syrup, fructose, deflavoured fruit juice, maltose, maple syrup, brown sugar, agave nectar, sucrose, molasses, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, crystalline fructose, syrup, invert sugar, honey, cane crystals, malt syrup, cane sugar, coloured sugar, raw sugar, glucose, sucrose with added molasses, fruit juice concentrate, evaporated cane juice. Remember, the less sugar there is in the product, the further down the ingredients list it will be.
How overconsumption of sugar could wreak havoc on your brain
It creates intense cravings
When you consume sugar, just like any food, it activates your tongue's taste receptors. Then, signals are sent to your brain, lighting up reward pathways and causing a surge of feel-good hormones, like dopamine, to be released. This means sugar has a similar effect as a drug.
It may cause or contribute to irritability, mood swings, brain fog and fatigue
If you've ever experienced a sugar crash, then you know that sudden peaks and drops in blood sugar levels can cause you to experience symptoms like irritability, mood swings, brain fog and fatigue. That's because eating a sugar-laden donut or drinking a soda causes blood sugar levels to spike upon consumption and then plummet. When your blood sugar inevitably dips back down (hence the "crash"), you may find yourself feeling anxious, moody or depressed. It may cause or contribute to depression and neuroinflammation.
Consuming sugar stimulates the release of the moodboosting neurotransmitter serotonin. Constantly overactivating these can deplete your limited supply of serotonin, which can contribute to symptoms of depression. Chronically high blood sugar levels have also been linked to inflammation in the brain and neuroinflammation may be one possible cause of depression.
World Health Organization recommendation on sugar intake
The World Health Organization recommends that only 10 percent of your diet should come from sugar. For an average healthy adult this is about 25 grams - which is about six teaspoons of sugar a day. When figuring that a can of cola contains about 39 grams of sugar, it's easy to see how we can go overboard on our sugar consumption quite often.