Saturday, May 7, 2022

What Does Sugar Do To The Brain

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Major Changes After 12 Days

How sugar affects the brain – Nicole Avena

The scientists analyzed the effects of sugar intake on seven female Göttingen minipigs, using complex PET imaging techniques with opioid receptor agonists and dopamine receptor antagonists to examine the animals brain reward systems.

The team gave the minipigs access to a sucrose solution for 1 hour on 12 consecutive days and then retook the scans 24 hours after the last sugar dose.

In a subgroup of five minipigs, the team applied an additional PET scanning session after the first exposure to sugar.

After just 12 days of sugar intake, we could see major changes in the brains dopamine and opioid systems, reports Winterdahl.

In fact, the opioid system, which is that part of the brains chemistry that is associated with well-being and pleasure, was already activated after the very first intake, adds the studys lead author.

Specifically, there were alterations in the striatum, nucleus accumbens, thalamus, amygdala, cingulate cortex, and prefrontal cortex after the sugar intake.

Can Sugar Rewire The Brain

The brain continuously remodels and rewires itself through a process called neuroplasticity. This rewiring can happen in the reward system. Repeated activation of the reward pathway by drugs or by eating lots of sugary foods causes the brain to adapt to frequent stimulation, leading to a sort of tolerance.

In the case of sweet foods, this means we need to eat more to get the same rewarding feeling – a classic feature of addiction.

Food addiction is a controversial subject among scientists and clinicians. While it is true that you can become physically dependent on certain drugs, it is debated whether you can be addicted to food when you need it for basic survival.

Quick Tips For How To Handle The Onslaught Of Sugary Treats:

1. Let them choose some favorites.

2. Throw or give the rest away.

3. Keep the favorites in a safe place.

4. Teach your children to eat them slowly, taking out one treat a week.

As hard as it is now to keep your kids away from all the sugar surrounding them, it only

gets more complex as they get older and become more dependent on it. Healthy

children with healthy eating habits grow into healthy adults with healthier eating habits.

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Does Sugar Affect Brain Development

The short answer is yes. Scientific studies show that high levels of sugar can negatively impact the brain health of children, encompassing everything from cognitive function to psychological well-being. For example, a study by the University of Southern California found that sugary drinks, when ingested in large quantities, impact the brains ability to function normally.

Similarly, a study from UCLA found that increased sugar consumption slows down the brain.

High levels of sugar can also impact neurotransmitters responsible for stabilizing mood, leading to depression and anxiety in children. The more research being undertaken, the more worrying the findings are.

I would suggest limiting sugars as much as you can. Its fine as a treat now and again, but it shouldnt be something your child consumes high levels of every single day.

Negative Effects Of Sugar: 4 Points To Consider

What Sugar does to your Brain

When you consider the following, you can see why sugars such a difficult addiction to kick:

  • Sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine.
  • The average American consumes 50+ pounds of hidden sugar every year.
  • Many manufacturers tell us that sugar is made from a natural source so we think its okay. But, so is heroin and opium made from natural sources. And all of these natural things are processed into something dangerous to our health.

We may think we are abstaining from sugar, but the truth is, we have no idea how many things we eat that contain hidden sugars. It becomes more challenging to curb our kids sugar intake because just about everything we pick up at the grocery store from spaghetti sauce to plain yogurtcontains a certain amount of refined sugar.

Since there are many hidden sugars in packaged foods, read the labels carefully!

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So What Happens If You Eat Too Much Sugar

There are also sugar receptors in your gut. So when you ingest something sugary, the receptors there are activated, too. They signal to your brain that your body should produce more insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body needs to help regulate it.

Eating a little sugar now and then wont necessarily hurt you. But if you eat too much sugar, your dopamine response will not level out. Youll crave sugar, youll need more and more of it, and eventually you might become addicted. So do with sugar what you do with all the good things in life: enjoy it in moderation!

Connecting and Relating

  • Think about a time when you ate too much sugar. How did you feel?
  • Have you ever heard of a sugar rush or a sugar high? What does this mean to you?
  • Do you try to limit the amount of sugar in your diet? Why/why not?
  • Do you think that school lunches should be reduced in sugar? Sugar-free? Explain.

Connecting and Relating

  • Think about a time when you ate too much sugar. How did you feel?
  • Have you ever heard of a sugar rush or a sugar high? What does this mean to you?
  • Do you try to limit the amount of sugar in your diet? Why/why not?
  • Do you think that school lunches should be reduced in sugar? Sugar-free? Explain.

Relating Science and Technology to Society and the Environment

Relating Science and Technology to Society and the Environment

Exploring Concepts

Exploring Concepts

The Damage Added Sugar Does To Our Bodies Begins In Our Brains

Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, depressionall have been linked in recent research to the over-consumption of sugar. And these linkages point to a problem that is only beginning to be better understood: what our chronic intake of added sugar is doing to our brains.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year. That’s five grocery store shelves loaded with 30 or so one pound bags of sugar each. If you find that hard to believe, that’s probably because sugar is so ubiquitous in our diets that most of us have no idea how much we’re consuming. The Centers for Disease Control puts the amount at 27.5 teaspoons of sugar a day per capita, which translates to 440 caloriesnearly one quarter of a typical 2000 calorie a day diet.

The key word in all of the stats is “added.” While a healthy diet would contain a significant amount of naturally occurring sugar , the problem is that we’re chronically consuming much more added sugar in processed foods, generally in the rapidly absorbed form of fructose.

That’s an important clarification because our brains need sugar every day to function. Brain cells require two times the energy needed by all the other cells in the body roughly 10% of our total daily energy requirements. This energy is derived from glucose , the gasoline of our brains. Sugar is not the brain’s enemyadded sugar is.

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Reduce Refined Carbohydrates And Your Glycemic Load

Sugar is not the only food that your body will turn into glucose. Foods that are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream can cause:

  • Spikes in blood sugar

Unless a food is in its natural whole state, it is a refined carbohydrate.

Refined carbohydrates often are made of:

  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Starch

The Glycemic index is a way to measure how quickly a carbohydrate will raise your blood glucose. A high glycemic index food will raise your blood sugar quickly.

Glycemic load is another measure that looks at how food affects your blood sugar. The glycemic load is based on the average portion size of the food you eat. This will give you a better idea of the effect food has on your blood sugar.

Glycemic load gives you an idea of which foods you can eat more of without spiking your blood sugar levels. To keep your blood sugars stable you want to avoid refined carbohydrates. These include:

  • Bread
  • Desserts

Sugar Has Effects On Mood

How Does Sugar Affect Your Brain?

Sugar also affects mood. In healthy young people, the ability to process emotion is compromised with elevated blood glucose, according to a brain imaging study.

Another study published in Diabetes Care found that people with type 2 diabetes reported increased feelings of sadness and anxiety during acute hyperglycemia .

One of the largest studies to link sugar with depressionan analysis of dietary consumption and mood of 23,245 individuals enrolled in the Whitehall II studyfound higher rates of sugar consumption was associated with a greater incidence of depression.

The study, published in 2017 in the journal Scientific Reports, found those with the highest level of sugar consumption were a 23% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder than those with the lowest sugar intakes.

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How Does Excess Sugar Affect The Brain

Eating foods high in refined sugar can also impact your cognitive performance. When rats were fed a high-sugar diet that resembles the average western diet, their cognitive performance suffered. The rats struggled to complete tasks that relied on their memory, suggesting that their diets were directly responsible for impairing the prefrontal lobe and hippocampus regions of their brains.

Further research echoes this idea. Eating a diet high in sugar can reduce the production of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor . This chemical is active in areas of the brain that are vital to learning, memory and higher thinking. Low BNDF levels are associated with poor memory function and have been linked with Alzheimers Disease and dementia. Its clear that a diet high in refined sugar can directly impact your brain function.

Glucose Uptake In The Brain How Are Neurons And Astrocytes Fed

Dependence of the brain on glucose as its obligatory fuel derives mainly from the blood-brain barrier , and its selective permeability for glucose in the adult brain. Glucose cannot be replaced as an energy source but it can be supplemented, as during strenuous physical activity when blood lactate levels are elevated or during prolonged starvation when blood levels of ketone bodies are elevated and BBB monocarboxylic acid transporter levels are upregulated. Because entry of neuroactive compounds into brain is highly restricted by the BBB, these compounds must be synthesized from glucose within the brain. The BBB and its transport properties sharply contrast with muscle and liver that do not have tight junctions between their vascular endothelial cells and have different transporter levels for various compounds, enabling these organs to metabolize glucose, monocarboxylic acids, fatty acids, amino acids, and ketone bodies.

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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 bodys primary source of energy. Your brain also requires a certain level of glucose to continue functioning, just like the rest of your bodys organs do. However, unlike your bodys 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 cant be converted into energy . And, then, if the brain cant 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.

New Research Shows How High Consumption Affects Learning Memory

What sugar does to your brain
University of Georgia
New research has shown in a rodent model that daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence impairs performance on a learning and memory task during adulthood. The group further showed that changes in the bacteria in the gut may be the key to the sugar-induced memory impairment.

Sugar practically screams from the shelves of your grocery store, especially those products marketed to kids.

Children are the highest consumers of added sugar, even as high-sugar diets have been linked to health effects like obesity and heart disease and even impaired memory function.

However, less is known about how high sugar consumption during childhood affects the development of the brain, specifically a region known to be critically important for learning and memory called the hippocampus.

New research led by a University of Georgia faculty member in collaboration with a University of Southern California research group has shown in a rodent model that daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence impairs performance on a learning and memory task during adulthood. The group further showed that changes in the bacteria in the gut may be the key to the sugar-induced memory impairment.

Supporting this possibility, they found that similar memory deficits were observed even when the bacteria, called Parabacteroides, were experimentally enriched in the guts of animals that had never consumed sugar.

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Sugar Causes Hyperactivity In Kids And Lowers Their Concentration Levels

Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline in children which in turn will cause a child to experience hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness.


You want your kids to do well in school. Ask yourself: What foods am I serving them for breakfast and what am I putting in their lunchboxes? As a parent do I know and understand the negative effects of sugar on my child? Dump the sugary cereals for breakfast and fast food for lunch. Give your children an egg for breakfastthe choline increases brain power. Pack a banana in their lunchthey help kids concentrate and stay alert throughout the day because they are a potassium-packed fruit.

What Sugar Does To Your Brain

By Rachel Keck, MS

Dextrose. Fructose. Lactose. Maltose. Glucose. A sugar by any other name is still sugar. In fact, there are more than 50 different names for it. But is sugar bad for you? Essentially, there are two types of sugar there is good sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and bad added sugar thats added to sweeten sodas, candy, baked goods, and so on.

The good sugar is actually needed within the body, particularly within the brain. Following a meal, food is broken down specifically glycogen, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and triglycerides, which are broken down into glucose. Glucose is so crucial to cell function that glucose deprivation can lead to loss of consciousness and eventual cell death. Therefore, after a meal, the body has a system in place in which excess glucose is stored as a reserve.

All cells need the energy to function the large mass of neuron cells that make up the brain needs energy, largely in the form of glucose, to function. Did you know that the brain uses approximately 20 percent of an individuals daily energy intake?

So as our reward pathway keeps getting stimulated, the dopamine receptors become desensitized and require more dopamine to get the same pleasant feeling.

Learning and Memory

Other studies also illustrate that the hippocampus, in particular, is sensitive to a high-energy diet.


Depression & Anxiety

Cognitive Deficits

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What Happens When A Child Consumes Too Much Sugar

Weve already covered this in detail, but let me summarize it here as a quick recap. When a child consumes too much sugar, they are at risk of obesity and other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Additionally, it can contribute to complications associated with excess weight.

In the short term, too much sugar can impact your childs energy levels it can cause hyperactivity and also impact your childs mood, which leads perfectly to the next question.

The Science And What We Know About Sugary Drinks

What Sugar Does to Your Brain & Body: The Truth About Sugar

Sugar, its found in everything. There is not point sugar-coating the current situation, from heart failures to Diabetes. There needs to be a solution, however were just too addicted to sugar and the other glucose counterparts.

When we consume sugar many things happens. Just a tiny spike of glucose causes slower response in our cogitative functions. Thus, affecting our memories by decreasing it and shorten our attention span. Studies have discovered that high sugar consumption leads inflammation of the brain and may lead to further damage of the brain.

Sugar screws with our Reward system in our head, making us consume more sugar with our knowing. This is exactly what addictions are, and how theyre formed. Another report cites that people who suffer from type 2 Diabetes are more likely to also experience mood swings, anxiety and even depression.

The study, published in 2017 by the journal Scientific Reports, concluded that those whom have the highest consumption of Sugar in their diet were, 23% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder than those who consumed lesser sugar.

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Dopamine Hits From Eating Sugar

On an evolutionary basis, our primitive ancestors were scavengers. Sugary foods are excellent sources of energy, so we have evolved to find sweet foods particularly pleasurable. Foods with unpleasant, bitter and sour tastes can be unripe, poisonous or rotting – causing sickness.

So to maximize our survival as a species, we have an innate brain system that makes us like sweet foods since they’re a great source of energy to fuel our bodies.

When we eat sweet foods the brain’s reward system – called the mesolimbic dopamine system – gets activated. Dopamine is a brain chemical released by neurons and can signal that an event was positive. When the reward system fires, it reinforces behaviours – making it more likely for us to carry out these actions again.

Dopamine “hits” from eating sugar promote rapid learning to preferentially find more of these foods.

Our environment today is abundant with sweet, energy rich foods. We no longer have to forage for these special sugary foods – they are available everywhere.

Unfortunately, our brain is still functionally very similar to our ancestors, and it really likes sugar. So what happens in the brain when we excessively consume sugar?

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