Sugar messes with your brain in 3 ways


With the silly season upon us, who doesn’t want to celebrate? The cocktails are flowing and the ice lollies are calling but before you have another mojito, maybe it’s worth considering the fallout from all those sugar-laden spoils? Consuming too much added sugar, even natural sweeteners, can lead to health problems, such as tooth decay, weight gain, poor nutrition and increased triglycerides, but there are other serious health issues at play…

1. Inflammation

A diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates can cause chronic low grade inflammation, and inflammation automatically affects the brain negatively: sugar causes insulin spikes, and it is also a known cause of damage to the microbiome – if your gut is compromised it affects the gut-brain axis too.

Inflammation is one of the hottest topics in immunology right now, it has been recognised that inflammation drives the process of the aging the brain, and can also be the root cause of many chronic illnesses that people succumb to.

2. Hormone helter skelter

Of particular importance to women is the fact that excess sugar is responsible not only for weight gain but also insulin resistance and resulting hormone imbalances. Diets laden with refined carbohydrates (not just the obvious sugary products) is especially linked to higher cortisol in obese individuals.

3. Brain drain

Changes in insulin as a result of sugar and refined carbohydrates consumption have a marked effect on hormones but also on essential brain function. Consumption of sugary foods and drinks can cause brain fog and fatigue in adults and in young developing brains especially, sugar can cause interference with the essential neurotransmitters responsible for keeping moods stable. This often leads to depression and anxiety in children.


Excess sugar causes extra insulin to flow into the bloodstream and this can affect the arteries, causing their walls to grow faster than normal and tense up. This adds stress to the heart and causes damage over time, leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Beat the cravings!

  • Keep moving Substitute sugar highs for endorphins! Exercise lifts mood and provides energy.
  • Up the protein Proteins in the form of skinless chicken, eggs, fish and yoghurt balance our sugar levels and shut off your brain’s hunger mechanisms.
  • Find the fibre Vegetables rich in fibre
  • Balance it out Balanced meals that include good fats (like avocado) and complex carbohydrates (think oats, quinoa, butternut, sweet potato, brown rice and pumpkin) help combat insulin spikes.
  • Add natural fats Find natural fats in raw seeds and nuts, cold pressed olive oil, avocado, salmon and sardines. These are all excellent for providing satiety.
  • Keep it real Artificial sweeteners confuse the body and don’t eliminate a craving for sugar!
  • Drink green tea It may taste bitter at first, but in time this antioxidant and inflammatory fighting drink will help quell sugar cravings. You can also try Origine 8 Green Tea extract. A single capsule taken once per day delivers the same polyphenol and catechin content as 25 cups of green tea over a 24-hour period!

Your aim for each meal is to aim for a balance of nutrient-dense, insulin balancing macro nutrients. The three essential macronutrients in nutrition are carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Use this handy tool to calculate your daily macro nutrient needs


Switching to artificial sweeteners used to be a suggested solution but research shows that these confuse hormones within the body and changes the gut microbiome.

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