It is recommended that humans consume no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. Currently, the average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons daily. The average American child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar each day. – The American Heart Association
As you can see, we clearly have a sugar epidemic on our hands, and it only grows worse as more people become even more addicted to the added sugars in all the foods we have at our disposal. While sugar tastes great in most foods, many people don’t even think twice about what effect this dangerous additive has on the brain or body. Sugar in itself doesn’t necessarily promote ill health, but the source of the sugar makes all the difference. 100 calories of sugar from an apple get processed very differently in the body than 100 calories of granulated sugar, for instance.
Studies continue to pour in about what sugar can do to our bodies, such as induce diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and more, but if this doesn’t make you want to quit sugar for good, maybe learning what it does to your brain will do the trick.
These Things Happen To Your Brain When You Eat Added Sugars
A new study found that consuming high levels of fructose (from added sugars) can do damage to a staggering 940 brain genes. This is a nutrigenomic study, in which researchers specifically study how food can alter the expression of genes. This type of study can help us to understand how the food we eat gets processed in our bodies, and can allow us to make healthier choices when we consume foods.
Research continues to show just how badly sugar affects our health, but now scientists can prove how sugars negatively act on our brains as well. In the study, the scientists discovered that added sugars altered 734 hypothalamic genes as well as 206 hippocampal genes. What does this mean for us exactly? Well, these particular genes are responsible for vital functions within the brain, such as cell metabolism, cell communication, inflammation, and overall brain function.
According to The Health and Sciences Academy, “…certain alterations can lead to leptin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, depression, and bipolar disorder.”
However, even if you’ve been consuming added sugars for years, the same study found that Omega-3 oil DHA “has the potential to normalize the genomic impact of fructose.” In other words, by including an adequate amount of DHA in your diet, you can reverse the effects of added sugars on your brain. You can find Omega-3 in the following plant-based foods:
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Romaine lettuce
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t avoid ALL sugars – we actually need some sugar in order to function properly. The key is to consume sugar in its whole, unaltered state, however. This means that we need to consume sugar from whole, uncooked fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. Extracting sugars from plants and then adding them back into foods strips the sugar of any nutrients whatsoever while keeping the calories and insulin-spiking properties, which is why processed sugar is so toxic to our health. Added sugar simply does not have any nutritional value whatsoever, so the body recognizes the calories, but does not know how to convert the energy into a usable form. This is partially why disease is so rampant in today’s world, so avoiding added sugars will go a long way in keeping you healthy and disease-free.
What’s more, studies have found sugar to be eight times more addictive than cocaine, so if you haven’t chosen to give up sugar yet, maybe this startling fact will do the trick.
Also, if you do buy processed foods at the store, keep your eyes peeled for the following ingredients disguised as sugar: glucose/fructose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, beet sugar, glucose solids, cane sugar, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, and maltodextrin, among others.
As with anything, you don’t have to avoid sugar altogether – just consume it in moderation if you must have it. We all like the occasional ice cream, soda, or candy bar, and having these every so often won’t do much damage to our health. However, the daily consumption of these foods is what really sends our system into a state of shock.