Sugar’s Effect on Brain Health and Behavior

sugar-addictionYou would be surprised to see the number of foods that have added sugars. Barbecue sauce, ketchup, white bread, fat-free salad dressings, and microwavable foods (burritos, hot pockets, etc.) among thousands upon thousands of other items you would not expect. The Coca-Cola Company argues that calories from sugar are equal to any other calorie and can be burned off as such.

There are different types of calories and each affect the body in a different way. Sugar affects brain receptors similar to cocaine and nicotine. It gives a sense of pleasure, releases hormones that induce a sensation of pleasure and later cause you to want more of it. It leads to an overall increase in food consumption.

Wieight_Gain_insulin_resistanceAnd that is just the start of it. The digestion of sugar requires large amounts of a hormone called insulin. Insulin makes the body much more likely to store calories as fat and cause the person to feel hungry even when they have already eaten enough. The hormone responsible for making us feel full, leptin, is produced in smaller quantities when so much insulin is present. Worst of all, insulin makes it harder for fat to be burned off. This is why a diet high in sugar will not benefit as much from exercise as a diet without sugar.


Sugar increases blood triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are fats that build up in the blood stream and cause strokes and other complications. It also affects LDL cholesterol levels, the bad cholesterol which also cause a buildup in the bloodstream. This is due to the breakdown of sugar into glucose and fructose. The fructose is digested in the liver and results in your LDL-cholesterol becoming smaller and denser, making it more likely to puncture the artery’s wall, which can cause a plaque.

Not only is sugar extremely hazardous to health and causes many metabolic disorders like diabetes type 2 and strokes, it is very cheap and is subsidized by the government to help American agriculture. I hope that the general public is made aware of ALL of the extremely harmful effects of sugar and that the government regulates sugar as it does any other brain-altering consumption like alcohol and tobacco. It is often downplayed to just be empty calories.


“The behavior isn’t the problem. The biochemistry is.” -Dr. Robert Lustig, Pediatrician from UCSF, talking about obese patients

Links for further study:



3 thoughts on “Sugar’s Effect on Brain Health and Behavior

  1. Your research is very interesting. I have recently heard a lot about people going on sugar-free diets in hopes of living healthier and losing weight. I was told however, by my science teacher that this is dangerous as it causes your body to forget how to digest sugars. Do you have any information about this topic?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never heard that about not taking sugar but it doesn’t seem to make sense to me because all carbohydrates that we eat (bread, rice, potatoes, oatmeal, etc.) are all broken down into glucose. Sugar is broken down into glucose (and fructose as a byproduct) much quicker and spikes blood sugar really high and then drops levels low enough to feel “hungry” even when you aren’t. I would assume that just cutting out sugar while having some form of carbohydrates every day would keep your insulin functioning as would consuming sugar because the glucose is still there to digest.

      Maybe your teacher meant to say carb-free diets? I can see how the body can become inefficient at breaking down sugar when it isn’t ever present.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s