You probably know that consuming lots of sugar isn’t going to shrink your waistline. What you might not be aware of is how dangerous all sugar is to your entire body, including your internal organs and brain.
Let’s start with fructose, the sweetest of all sugars. Naturally found in fruit and honey, it’s known to biochemists as the most fattening carbohydrate.
Most of us consume massive amounts of fructose. Since most of this fructose is contained in manufactured products, our bodies have an especially tough time processing it all.
Unprocessed foods are better: A medium-sized apple, for instance, has 44 calories of sugar, but it’s also rich in fiber. Juice taken from several apples, on the other hand, contains no fiber and has 85 calories of sugar for every 12 ounces. That’s the same sugar ratio as most soft drinks.
Though fructose doesn’t have an immediate effect on blood sugar or insulin, it’s likely to stimulate insulin resistance – failure of cells to properly respond to insulin – in the long run. That apple a day might not really keep the doctor away.
This sugar (and other carbs in general) turns into the worst kind of fat in your body: visceral fat. Visceral fat is the kind you can’t see, feel or touch – it’s wrapped around your internal organs and it’s the most detrimental to your health.
Excessive visceral and body fat doesn’t just increase insulin resistance; it also produces inflammatory chemicals that can directly harm your brain and impair your cognitive functions.
A group of researchers studied this in 2005 by looking at correlations between the waist-to-hip ratios of more than 100 people and the structural changes in their brains. They found that the larger a person’s belly, the smaller their hippocampus. The hippocampus plays a central role in memory – and the larger it is, the better it functions. A small hippocampus indicates deficient memory processing.
So remembering to eat well now may help your memory in the future!