We respond to food, sometimes we find it even to be addictive. While I am not planning to turn this column into instructions on health every once in a while, bringing up the subject is not a bad thing. So, at the beginning of the year I was scanning the Net and came up with the following. Even if later research completely contradicts what is below, a common truism is that sugar contributes to obesity which contributes to unhealthiness. Sugar does no good for your teeth which are part of the system to consume. Our culture also finds a mouthful of teeth more desirable than a mouth missing several teeth. The cost of dentistry is extremely high and a facet of it is teeth rot induced by sugars. Sugar adds to pain for systems already stressed past their maximum.
So here we are at the New Year and we are overloaded with stress and responsibility and bills and pain and though sugar feel good it does much harm. As difficult as it is, make a resolution to lower your intake of sugar and start using healthier substitutes as much as possible.
“Most research on sugar’s impact focuses on a small horseshoe-shaped region in the middle of the brain, about level with your ear, called the hippocampus. It is responsible for memory formation and navigation; to do that, it needs to be continually building new neurons or rewiring existing pathways.
This role makes it vulnerable to external stresses – potentially such as diets high in sugar.
In animals, the research is fairly clear: sugar damages their ability to make new memories.
The first person to confirm that effect in humans was Professor Richard Stevenson, leading a team at Macquarie University, earlier this year.
He had volunteers spend a week eating a high-fat, high-sugar breakfast. After just four days, their performance on memory tests fell dramatically.
“Sugar seems to adversely impact the hippocampus and longer-term brain structures that are involved in decision-making and pleasure,” he says.
The University of Sydney’s Dr Kieron Rooney once did a quick study – largely for a lark – on a small group of people who signed up to a popular quit sugar diet. He was surprised to find that their memories had significantly improved by the end of the diet.
Professor Morris has spent more than 20 years putting rats on high-sugar diets. She says the results are consistent and repeatable. “Weight gain and a cognitive decline – it’s quite a large effect,” she says.
Obesity is characterised by low-grade inflammation throughout the body. The theory, says Professor Morris, is that with excess sugar and fat in the diet inflammation also appears to affect the hippocampus, impairing its function.
High-sugar diets also reduce the levels of a chemical needed for new neuron formation – which is crucially important to the hippocampus’s job of creating new memories.
The most prominent and studied impact of sugar on the hippocampus is navigation. We use the hippocampus to build an internal map of our surroundings.
Professor Morris found that navigation for rats fed a high-sugar diet is significantly impaired.
She also makes it clear though that her research on sugar’s effects on the brain has not been replicated in people, so the link to how humans will react is not definite.
“It’s probable but it’s far from confirmed,” sums up Professor Morris.” http://www.theage.com.au/interactive/2017/what-sugar-does-to-your-brain/