Sugar impacts not just our waistline but also our brains in so many ways. We are surrounded by refined sugar in our foods and in so many of our drinks on a daily basis. In fact, not just our bodies but our brains can become affected by excessive sugar and therefore become unhealthy.
The brain needs a consistent source of sugar in the form of glucose for its various processes. Even while we are sleeping, neuronal activities in the brain uses upto a quarter of the body’s total energy supply. The hypothalamus of the brain is the main metabolic center and is responsible for orchestrating the cascade of events that metabolizes sugar. The hypothalamus is highly sensitive to the blood glucose concentration in the brain. It works alongside the pituitary gland to regulate the release of hormones and stabilize blood glucose levels. The hypothalamus does control the glucose levels delicately and any imbalance can result in neurological problems such as confusion unconsciousness and even death.
The brain is affected by excessive sugar in several ways. The hippocampal region of the brain is the main memory center. Excess sugar can impair memory function by disrupting the hippocampus area of the brain.The effects of refined carbohydrates on cognitive abilities are also seen in young children and not just in adults. A study on laboratory rats in the University of California demonstrated that fructose fed rats had memory impairments. They took a longer time to complete a memory task than control rats.
Additionally, the risks of dementia is found to increase from a high sugar diet. The ability of the brain to recover from injury or from brain stroke is also impaired in those who have a high fructose diet. The brain is plastic and therefore can mold its neuronal connections when we train our brains, experience something new or learn some new skill. Research at the UCLA suggests that high fructose diet can impair and affect the brain’s plasticity.
Thus, however way we look at it, whether in terms of cognitive function, memory, learning new skills or recovering from injury, excess refined sugar does no good for our brains.