Glucose, a form of sugar, is the primary source of energy for every cell in the body. Because the brain is so rich in nerve cells, or neurons, it is the most energy-demanding organ, using one-half of all the sugar energy in the body.
Sugar "hijacks the brain’s reward pathway," neuroscientist Jordan Gaines Lewis explained. And while stimulating the brain's reward system with a piece of chocolate now and then is pleasurable and probably harmless, when the reward system is activated too much and too frequently, we start to run into problems.
Sugar is not the brain's enemy—added sugar is. Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Sugar has drug-like effects in the reward center of the brain. Scientists have proposed that sweet foods—along with salty and fatty foods—can produce addiction-like effects in the human brain, driving loss of self-control, overeating, and subsequent weight gain.
But when we have too much sugar, or consume a lot of it over a long period of time, just like drugs, it can kickstart an unfortunate series of events in our brain that lead to cravings, loss of control, and increased tolerance to sugar. But back to that mouthful of sugar, because it doesn't stop at activating the receptors on your tongue.
The 'sugar high' combined with the ensuing 'sugar crash' causes you to crave even more sugar, most likely resulting in a damaging cycle of sugar binging. So avoid refined sources of sugar as much as possible. Negative Mental Effects. Another connection between sugar and brain function concerns dysfunction.
Not only can sugar and sweets substitute for drugs like cocaine, in terms of how your brain reacts to them, they can be even more rewarding. The dramatic effects of sugar on your brain may explain why you may have difficultly controlling your consumption of sugary foods when continuously exposed to them.
And while most people are aware of sugar’s negative effects on their waistline and heart, how it effects the brain is far less common knowledge. Although the brain does require a certain amount of sugar in order to function properly, this type is known as glucose and is found naturally in foods like fruits and grains.
In short, this means that repeated access to sugar over time leads to prolonged dopamine signalling, greater excitation of the brain’s reward pathways and a need for even more sugar to activate ...