AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

The Not-So-Sweet Truth

Trick-or-treaters excitedly hoard candy every Halloween, aware of its dangers to the extent that sugar causes cavities. However, sugar’s stealth effects extend far beyond tooth decay. Research shows that consuming high-concentrations of sugar slows down brain function and is detrimental to both physical and mental health. Continuing overindulgences in sugar-laden products may even lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Children, teenagers, and adults need to understand the damages that a high-fructose diet could cause in order to avoid sugar.

For consumers, sugar is extremely difficult to avoid since it is found in most processed foods in the form of honey, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup. As soon as sugar is consumed and absorbed into the body, it causes the brain to release hormones, such as dopamine, that generate good feelings. The good feelings from the release of dopamine are temporary. Once the high sugar level in the bloodstream drops, feelings of depression, irritability, or fatigue take over. Sugar thus stimulates the body to intensely crave for more sugar intake.

In addition to affecting the hormones, research shows that sugar-heavy diets causes changes in gut bacteria, which makes the brain’s ability to adapt and switch to new concepts more difficult to comprehend. The gut bacteria influences the way the brain functions, so any change in this type of bacteria is unhealthy for neurological health. The level of sugar intake and cognitive abilities are interconnected; therefore, restricting sugar from entering the bloodstream is an intelligent dietary choice.

The negative consequences of diets high in sugar have been studied and the conclusive evidence shows that sugar is toxic to good health. Scientists conducted experiments on a group of rats to prove that sugar consumption hinders the ability to effectively think. One group was given normal water to drink, while the other group was given a fructose-infused water to drink for six weeks. After the six weeks, the rats were timed to see how fast they could escape a maze. The group that drank the sugar water took thirty percent longer than the group that drank plain water. The researchers ultimately concluded that fructose disrupts plasticity: the brain’s ability to retain short-term and long-term memories and generate new ideas using new information.

It is important for everyone to be aware of the harmful effects that sugar has on the human body. Cavities should not be the thing people worry about when they eat candy, as they are petty compared to the dangers sugar has on the brain. Sugar weakens mental and physical health, and should be avoided like the death it could cause.

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  1. jdna

    Interesting and relevant article peptidechiangs, as the over consumption of sugar plagues the majority of people! Sugar can become very addictive, previously stated by jackuole and also has serious effects on the heart. A sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. Over the course of the 15-year study, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar. Overall, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet. This is true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.


  2. agman

    This is a great article Peptidechiangs! Thank you! I never knew that memory and sugar had a correlation. I found a website that lists foods that can give you Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, the foods that hamper memory are common staples in the American diet! White breads, pasta, processed meats and cheeses, all of these have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally beer can lead to memory loss!! Source:

  3. jackuole

    Great article Peptidechiangs! The downsides of an over dependence on sugar truly are frightening. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that Sugar is an addictive substance, creating an addiction in frequent users similar in potency of that of drugs or alcohol. As you mentioned in the article, the intake of sugar stimulates the release of Dopamine and affects the reward center of the brain so that users feel happy when consuming sugar. This causes people to crave sugar despite the negative effects such as weight gain and headaches. This is especially prevalent in the U.S., a top 10 consumer of sugar per capita.


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