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The Scary Side of Sugar: You Know It Expands Your Middle, but Did You Know It Slows Growth in Your Brain?

The Scary Side of Sugar: You Know It Expands Your Middle, but Did You Know It Slows Growth in Your Brain?

Halloween may be over, but there's a good chance you've got plenty of Halloween candy lying around your house. Maybe you've got a bowl of unclaimed miniature Snickers from trick-or-treat no-shows. Or maybe you simply know where your kids hid their stash of goodies. Either way, you-and your kids-probably have access to lots of sugary goodies from the October 31st tradition.

We don't need to tell you that indulging your sweet tooth by binging on all that candy isn't good for you. You already know that too much sugar will impact the size of your waist. Did you also know it can also impact the size of your brain?

Here's how it works:

Your body produces a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF). This chemical is a good thing, because it helps your brain grow and create new neurons. In other words, if you want a healthy brain with the ability to expand neural connections and function well, you want as much BDNF as possible.

Unfortunately (and we do mean unfortunately, since we like candy as much as you do), research shows that high sugar diets can significantly decrease levels of BDNF.

How important is BDNF to your ability to think, learn and remember? In one experiment, rats had the best ability to learn and remember when they had high levels of BDNF. It took only two months of a high sugar/high fat diet to decrease the amount of BDNF in their brains and for the rats' ability to learn and remember to be significantly impaired as a result.

This year, do your brain a favor and don't make leftover Halloween candy a fifth food group. Just because Halloween is supposed to be frightening doesn't mean it's okay to do scary things to your brain.

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