There’s nothing like that first bite of chocolate cake after dinner or snacking on your favorite candy at the movies. Maybe you even enjoy a refreshing soda with your lunch or a sweet pastry with your breakfast. However, not many people are aware of what sugar does to your brain.
Junk food is one of those guilty pleasures that might or might not get you through the day. Whether it’s a candy stash in your dresser or dessert after dinner, sugar makes your taste buds do a little happy dance.
Do you ever stop to wonder why sugary foods taste so good? Why don’t you get tired of eating your favorite treat?
Sugar is in nearly everything, so it’s important to understand the effects that it has on you. There are tons of positive and negative effects on both your brain and body that might just surprise you.
What is sugar?
Sugar is basically just sweet-tasting carbohydrates. There’s a variety of types of sugar ranging from simple sugars to more complex sugars that are in the majority of your favorite foods.
What does sugar do?
Some of the main simple sugars are fructose, galactose, and glucose. These sugars are called “monosaccharides” and work to produce and store your body’s energy.
Glucose is your mind and body’s main fuel source. This is the sugar that offers all that energy to every single cell in your body.
Because your brain uses more energy than any other organ in your body, the right amount of glucose helps all your systems to run properly. The brain actually uses half of all of that sugar energy, so you can thank sugar for keeping that mind of yours running!
How does sugar work in your body?
As soon as you eat something with sugar, your taste receptors send signals up to the brain. Your taste receptors send messages to the cerebral cortex, which processes the taste of all those flavors on your tongue.
Once the message is sent to the cerebral cortex, it activates the brain’s reward system. This system consists of tons of pathways across your brain that all light up with joy when you taste that yummy bite of food. Your brain processes sugar like it processes taking drugs, socializing, and having sex.
The brain and the gut work together to release dopamine, the reward chemical, so that you feel like you should do it again and again. This is great for giving your body short-term energy, but it’s not so great long-term.
How does sugar negatively affect your brain?
Even though sugar gives your mind and body energy, that doesn’t mean that eating extra sugar gives you extra energy. Excess sugar can actually be detrimental to your health.
Once you activate the reward system, your brain begins to crave that sugar again and again. This can lead to addiction, which can be extremely dangerous to your health. Because your brain responds to sugar just like it does to drugs, it can be compared to drug addiction.
Overacting the reward system with too much sugar can lead to serious cravings, weight gain, overeating, and loss of control. Recent studies have even shown that overeating sugar can lead to premature aging, cognitive or memory deficiencies, and many other negative outcomes.
Be careful with your body!
Sugar is a source of fuel that your body needs, but it’s easy to abuse and overuse. Be watchful of your sugar consumption so that you can keep your body balanced at your peak energy and health!