Damage From “Sugar Brain” as Bad as Stress or Abuse
Just how much does sugar harm the brain?
Researchers find “sugar brain” impairs your emotional makeup and mental abilities even more than extreme stress or abuse.
Scientists have known that very adverse experiences early in life damage the brain, raising the risk of mental health and psychiatric problems later in life. Such traumatic events can include natural disasters, bereavement, accidents, domestic violence abuse, witnessing an injury and being a victim of crime. Moreover, evidence shows childhood maltreatment is linked to decreased brain volume, which is associated with anxiety. It’s remarkable that sugar can have the same negative effects as these painful incidents.
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Sugar Harms Hippocampus and Genes Needed for Nerve Growth
In the study published in Frontiers of Molecular Neuroscience, researchers divided rats into two groups: they used one as a control group and put the rats in the other group in stressful conditions for several days. Next, the control group and stressed group were each divided into two subgroups, where one was fed regular chow and the other was fed chow with added sugar.
The focus of the exploration of the effects of sugar was the hippocampus, a structure in the brain that plays an important role in memory and stress. “We found that chronic consumption of sugar in rats who were not stressed produced similar changes in the hippocampus as seen in the rats who were stressed but not drinking sugar,” said the authors. “The changes we observed to the region of the brain that controls emotional behavior and cognitive function were more extensive than those caused by extreme early life stress.”
In addition to the hippocampal changes, both sugar and stress produced increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as reduced the expression of genes needed for nerve growth. The results gave the researchers great concern because of the high consumption of sugary beverages in western countries. They feel that reducing sugar in the diet is important, particularly for children, as it can impede their brain growth and development.
What Does Prior Research Show About Sugar Brain?
- Brain fog — A study indicates sugar hinders the communication between nerve cells, a problem that could detrimentally affect mood and the ability to remember instructions.
- Depression — When sugar is consumed, blood glucose initially spikes; however, the fall or crash that occurs later results in depression, moodiness and anxiety.
- Alzheimer’s – A sugary diet is linked to insulin resistance and high glucose levels, which are associated with a greater risk of neurodegenerative disorders.
- Poor memory – Sugar shrinks the hippocampus, an effect that causes memory loss and could lead to dementia.
Beware of Hidden Sugar in Diet
Most people know about the high sugar content in sodas and other beverages, but they may not be aware of the extent that manufacturers add it to their products. Although you may try to limit your intake of obvious sources like cookies, cake and candy, the amount of sugar you ingest through other foods can mount. Versions of sugar, such as glucose, fructose and corn syrup, are found in 74 percent of packaged foods in supermarkets. They are in many cereals, including granola and granola bars. Some form of sugar is also contained in yogurt, frozen food and fruit juice along with condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce. Because of the multiple hidden food sources, it’s best to get in the habit of reading labels when grocery shopping.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.