Sugar: A Toxic Drug That's Aging Your Skin and Memory - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


Sugar: A Toxic Drug That’s Aging Your Skin and Memory

Shocking, but true: sugar is making your skin wrinkle and sag (!!), and as if that wasn’t enough, it’s also damaging your brain…


If you’re anything like me, you love desserts. I never miss a chance to have a brownie after dinner. But research is showing that my sweet tooth may be the reason I can’t remember where my keys are. The harsh reality is this: no human in this world can get through life without consuming sugar. The food we eat, the drinks we sip, and even the lip gloss we use all contain a certain amount of sugar. In fact, the average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. But how much does it really affect us?

Sugar: A Toxic Drug That’s Aging Your Skin and Memory

Experiments were conducted on two sets of rats, where one group ate a sugary diet high in fructose and the other had a healthy diet. They made the rats navigate a maze with landmarks helping them. After six weeks, they were asked to navigate the maze again. Those who were fed a sugary diet were much slower and when they were dissected, researchers noticed that their brain cells had noticeably declined. “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Prof Gomez-Pinilla.

The research focused on fructose — ie. the high-fructose corn syrup that is commonly used sodas, condiments, baby food and applesauce. Prof Gomez-Pinilla said that while natural fructose is also found in fruits, they are concerned about the unnatural and highly refined corn syrup type that’s in most packaged foods and drinks. And if you think you’re being healthy by drinking “good for you” drinks, think again. Consumption of sports drinks (yes, that means Gatorade and Vitamin Water) and non-organic fruit juices are also a no-no, as they contain refined sugar and have absolutely no nutritional value.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, sugar meaningfully decreases brain function.

But it’s not just your brain that’s affected. Nancy Guberti, in her article “The Sugar Connection to Learning”, said that we are a product of whatever we eat, and when people, especially young children, consume a huge amount of sugar, this not only hinders learning and memory, but also causes health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Studies also show that sugar is one of the largest culprits in aging because when it hits the bloodstream, it attaches to the proteins and forms advanced glycation end products. It then destroys the fibers that keeps the skin strong and supple. In short, consuming sugar causes wrinkles by degrading the elastin and collagen in the body. 

Sugar: A Toxic Drug That’s Aging Your Skin and Memory

And as if you thought it couldn’t get any worse, brace yourself, because sugar is highly addictive. In fact, the scientific community consensus is that it’s a harder addiction to kick than cocaine. Refinement processes similar to sugar refinement transform other plants like poppies and coca into heroin and cocaine, and studies show that seemingly-innocuous sugar can be even more addictive than the recreational drug. Subsequently, people experience dopamine depletion, intense cravings and other sugar withdrawal symptoms. When you look at animal studies comparing sugar to cocaine, even when you get the rats hooked on IV cocaine, once you introduce sugar, almost all of them switch to the sugar.

“You get this intense release of dopamine upon acute ingestion of sugar. After you chronically consume it, those dopamine receptors start becoming down-regulated — there’s less of them, and they’re less responsive,” he said. “That can lead to ADHD-like symptoms … but it can also lead to a mild state of depression because we know that dopamine is that reward neurotransmitter.”

Sugar: A Toxic Drug That’s Aging Your Skin and Memory

So why isn’t sugar regulated? Because governments all around the world – from the USA to the UK – are on the take or under heavy pressure from industry lobbyists. Remember when Michelle Obama wanted to take on sugar as an issue? The lobbyists shut her up almost immediately, and changed her tune from cutting down on the mountains of junk food and sugar that kids are fed (even in schools!), to her “Let’s Move” exercise pitch.

“Sugar is addictive. And we don’t mean addictive in that way that people talk about delicious foods. We mean addictive, literally, in the same way as drugs. And the food industry is doing everything it can to keep us hooked.” – New York Times

Here’s Russell Brand sounding off about how the sugar industry controls the government and the public’s overall perception of sugar, preventing us from talking about how sugar is a toxic and addictive drug.

“The government subsidizes corn, so high fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar, and that’s why it’s so ubiquitous in our diets,” DiNicolantonio explained. “They need to start subsidizing healthy foods. We shouldn’t be able to eat a Snickers bar for cheaper than we can eat an apple.”

Next page: How to control sugar cravings and combat the toxic effects of refined sugars… read on!

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A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 23 Comments

  1. Gabby Williams

    My kids and I fight over their sugar consumption. But I have been learning how to bake healthy recently, so instead of buying outside, I make their dessert. Make sure they are regulated.

    • Arabella Clarington

      I’m with you Gabby! I don’t want to deprive my children of sweets. But I’m also trying to regulate their sugar consumption by making sure that I prepare their desserts!

  2. Francis Woods

    I love sweets!!! But I’m trying to lessen it, step by step. I stopped putting sugar in my coffee and tea. Next stop, no more desserts, except the weekends!!!

  3. Melani Kalev

    On this subject, a book called “Eat Move Sleep” by Tom Rath is very useful to read. The book has a quite interactive homepage as well. Worth checking out 🙂

    • Great tip! I just signed up and am checking it out now. Looks good so far!

    • Francis Woods

      Thanks for the suggestion! Check out as well, they have great health topics 😀

  4. Courtney Watson

    Well, the cliché “too much of something is bad enough!” is very applicable!!!

    • Francis Woods

      I agree!!!!! That’s why everything should be taken in moderation. Even sleep!!!

  5. Hannah Mayers

    The trouble with sugar?! Too bad… Now, how’s my sweet tooth?! LOL

    I have been reading a lot of articles about the negative effects of sugar and I’m honestly trying very hard to moderate my sugar intake. I believe that everything has its pros and cons that’s why taking things in “moderation” is very, very, very, very important.

  6. Jen Spillane

    This is so sad. But I suppose everything in moderation, right?

    • Francis Woods

      This is not so sad!!! You can still have a little bit every day, you don’t necessarily have to not eat any sugar at all. Just not too much 😀

  7. I've heard some of the damaging effects of sugar (though mostly to your waistline….) but I had no idea it could be this harmful! Thanks for the info.

  8. Sugar can be like poison to the body. It feeds cancer and (bad) bacteria. It’s true that even sports drinks are too sugary and shouldn’t be consumed. Don’t drink your calories!

    • Francis Woods

      There’s sugar everywhere!!! Even in bread, just a different form. So I guess it’s up to us how to eat it in moderation.

  9. Joanne Samonte

    It is really ‘almost impossible to live’ without sugar. I think we need discipline in order to have / achieve moderate intake of sugar.

    • Francis Woods

      YOU ARE SO RIGHT, JOANNE!!! Do you have any tips or what do you do to discipline yourself?

  10. Sarah Evanston

    I think everything we take should be in moderation. Too much of something is always bad. 😀 

    • Francis Woods

      You just reminded me of that Spice Girls song…. Don’t even ask why I know it!!!

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