How Sugar Affects the Brain

how sugar affects the brain

Our brain is responsible for most of the functions of the human body—this explains why it uses more energy than any of our organs.

And we primarily get our daily doses of energy from glucose. It is a form of carbohydrates that are found in sweets and high-calorie foods.

Although glucose provides energy, excess consumption of sugar can affect the brain negatively instead of boosting our cognitive ability.

When I am working in the office, I was told to drink coffee or consume candies to improve my energy. But I notice that although it provides some sort of energy, it quickly falters, and I become more fatigued than ever.

So how sugar affects the brain?

The reason for such is that processed sugars are an unreliable source of energy.

They are quickly broken down by the digestive system and goes directly to our bloodstream. Thus, it causes a sudden spike in both blood sugar and insulin level.

The result is a sudden energy crash that is characterized by fatigue, mental fogginess, and inability to maintain focus.

Why is Sugar Addictive?

Sugar can be addictive if we are unable to manage consumption.

While little sweets once in a while won’t hurt, excess sugar triggers the part of the brain referred to as the reward system.

What it does is it releases neurotransmitters called dopamine, also known as the happy hormone. It is called as such for a good reason.

Dopamine allows us to experience temporary happy sensations. And once we’re down or sad, chances are we go back to any experiences that made us happy in the first place. This is how sugar affects the brain.

This is common not only with sugar addiction but also to other aspects like salty foods, substance abuse, or sex.

How sugar affects the brain…


Sugar does affect mood.

Try to observe the next time you drink carbonated beverages or coffee. I bet you feel tiny kicks of euphoria as your consuming them. In some cases, it also changes our outlook on life to positivity.

But don’t be fooled—these are only temporary.

Try to observe after a few minutes. You may feel tired, which leads to low mood, and at times, you may also become highly irritable.

One study in 2017 found the relationship between high consumption of sugar and depression. (1)

Related Article: How too much sugar affects sleep


Once we over-consume sugar, it impairs our cognition that affects both memory and ability to maintain attention.

According to a 2016 research, overconsumption of sugar causes inflammation that leads to memory difficulties. (2)

This may be the case—it is not something to be worried about. Such damage isn’t permanent and can be reversed through lifestyle change.

Related Article: How to manage cravings when it hits

Cognitive capability

An increased level of blood sugar incurs damage in the blood vessel. This includes blood vessels leading to the brain. (3)

And long-term exposure to high sugar intake can negatively impact learning, memory, motor speed, and other functions of the nervous system.

Related article: Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Final thoughts

Too much table or added sugar in our system can have a significant negative impact on how it affects the brain.

We can avoid any of these health problems by refraining eating too much sugar.

In events we crave for sweets, we can opt for healthier options like fruits and vegetables.

It’s not going to be a cakewalk, that’s for sure. But if you truly desire a healthier lifestyle, you can achieve this through perseverance.

Sweet Freedom Team

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