How Sugar Affects Your Brain
Just the thought of those freshly-baked cookies and scrumptious peanut butter treats has the power to bring us to our knees. What is it about sugar that makes us crave for it—obsess over it?
Whether it is the reward that your child needs to complete his/her homework or the motivation for an adult to exercise, sugar has the power to influence.
The problem is that we are consuming too much of it. While the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended cutting sugar down to 10 percent, the average American diet consists of 13% calories of sugar.
Sugar hijacks our brains and can affect cognitive functioning and psychological well being. Let’s take a look at how exactly it does that and some cognitive dysfunctions that can be caused:
What Happens When You Take a Mouthful of Something Sugary?
The first thing that happens when you eat something sweet is that the receptors in your tongue light up.
They send a signal through the brain stem and to the cerebral cortex – the region in the brain responsible for processing tastes. Once the signal reaches there, the brain’s reward system is activated. It tells you, “Yes, that was great! You should have more of it.”
The interesting thing about sugar is that it triggers the same response in the reward center as those triggered by drugs and sex. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain that is released when we do things we really enjoy. In the right quantity, dopamine bursts can be fun, but go beyond that right amount and you’re heading towards addiction. This is the reason why excessive amounts of sugar can lead to cravings, and even loss of control.
Learning and Memory Impairment
Researchers at UCLA carried out a study on rats to determine if sugar can have an effect on their memory and learning. As it turns out, it did. It was found that consuming high levels of Fructose impaired the synaptic activity in their brains—it basically weakened communication among brain cells.
Depression and Anxiety
When you consume sugary foods or drinks, the sugar levels in your bloodstream spike. However, when you stop this high amount of consumption, the blood sugar level dips and causes symptoms of irritability, mood swings and fatigue. A study conducted at the Emory University School of Medicine found that a high-fructose diet can lead to anxiety and depression in adolescents.
Rena Greenberg understands sugar cravings to the core and provides effective hypnotherapy for sugar addiction. Her Sugar Divorce Program is a comprehensive guide for people dealing with sugar cravings.