Ahh, sugar. We know it, we love it, and we overconsume it. And while there is probably a lot we don’t actually know about it, there is a lot that we do know and it’s all pretty wild. Let’s take a look at our brain on, well, on sugar.
First things first, your brain does need sugar, in fact, it’s the main fuel our brains need. Glucose fuels all of our cells which is why, evolutionarily speaking, we crave sweets because we know they’re a great source of energy. We’re also very aware of what happens when our bodies are low on sugar; the mid-day fog creeps in, your words are blurry somehow, you can’t find anything, and you would do dirty deeds for a solid hour-long nap. But something we know with 100% certainty? There’s a fine line between just enough sugar and too much.
So what exactly happens when we eat sugar? Well, it’s like a reward. Our tongue sends a message to our brain that signals a release of dopamine, that behavior is reinforced, and we crave more. So think about that moment you take a bite of your favorite pastry, it’s delicious, and suddenly you’re five chocolate croissants in and you don’t know how you let it get this far. The answer: dopamine.
So we know what happens when we eat sugar, our brains, and our bodies naturally start craving more. But how much is too much? The limit does not exist. Kinda. See, now that we’ve broken the barrier, larger amounts of sugar will be required each time to achieve that same level of reward. Does this sound familiar to you at all? It could be because this is the same process thought to underlie the tolerance associated with addiction.
While our bodies do require a little bit of sugar, too much sugar starts to impact us quite negatively, we might add, in the form of slower cognitive function affecting both our memory and attention. Too much sugar can also begin to affect our mood causing increased feelings of sadness, anxiety, and some studies have even linked overconsumption of sugar to depression.
If you’re concerned about the amount of sugar you intake, we do have some good news for you. The effects sugar may have on our cognitive functions is most likely not permanent. As for our brains craving sugar, you can reverse this but it won’t be easy. All you have to do is cut back on sugar, but this could take months because of the dependence on sugar you may already possess. But trust us when we say, worth it.