Sugar Effects On The Human Body


Sugar can be traced back as far as 510 BC. During this time sugar was very rare and production and consumption were hidden among the richest. As time went on and different territories were invaded by different conquerors more and more people understood what sugar really was. Along with that people started to understand how to grow and manufacture sugar themselves. However, possessing the knowledge of manufacturing sugar did not help the prices as it was very expensive.

The first recorded transaction took place in London in 1319 AD with a price of two shillings. This equates to about $100 per kilogram in today’s currency (Sugar Knowledge International, 2018).

Fortunately, by the 19th century thanks to Britain, sugar becomes more available to the public due to reduced prices. Since the 19th-century, sugar had become more readily available. Thereby, allowing market companies along with regular people to consume or sell sugar as he or she deems it necessary.

Sugar can be found as fructose, sucrose, glucose, monosaccharides as well as other sources like honey and cane. Moreover, sugar is defined as “material that consists wholly or essentially of sucrose, is colorless or white when pure tending to brown when less refined, is obtained commercially from sugarcane or sugar beet and less extensively from sorghum, maples, and palms (Merriam-Webster, 2018, para 1).”


Furthermore, regular people, as well as athletes who choose to consume high amounts of sugar, may want to rethink his or her decision.

This has to do with the fact of sugar being so sweet and tasty. Such taste gets many people addicted and thereby makes people consume more sugar. Along with the addiction to sugar, a high amount of sugar that is consumed by the individual will lead to a quick spike in blood sugar followed by a drop in blood sugar levels. Furthermore, a high amount of sugar causes type 2 diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and heart diseases.

However, not all is lost when it comes to sugar. Consumed in the right form and right amount, sugar can have a great impact on athletic ability, cognitive and academic performance along with increased self-control and decreased aggression towards others.

Sugar and the Brain

Glucose is a form of sugar and its’ primary role is to provide every cell in the body with energy. Moreover, a human brain is very complicated and thereby needs a lot of energy to function. On average the human brain takes up half of all the sugar that is available in the human body. This energy consumption is done through thinking, creating, maintaining memory, as well as learning along with decision making on an everyday basis.

However, if there is not enough glucose present in the body and thereby the brain, “for example, neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers, are not produced and communication between neurons breaks down (Harvard Medical School, 2018, para 2).” then the body may experience loss of energy, poor attention span, as well as a loss of having the ability to think efficiently.

Glucose is essential for the human brain, individuals should not provide the brain with too much sugar or energy due to the negative effects on the brain. A study was conducted in 2014 by the University of California San Francisco.

The study showed a correlation between high sugar consumption and cell aging. The researchers noticed this through the shortening of telomeres. Telomeres are “natural end of eukaryotic chromosome composed of usually repetitive DNA sequence and serving to stabilize the chromosome (Merriam-Webster, 2018, para 1).”

A study done by Van Drielen K and colleagues (2015) showed that glucose and cortisol are associated with facial aging. Diabetes has one of the more profound effects on the brain through high glucose along with other varies sugar forms. Furthermore, diabetes is “a disease in which too little or no insulin is produced but cannot be used normally resulting in high levels of sugar in the blood (Merriam-Webster, 2018, para 1).”

“…Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone used by the body to keep blood glucose levels in check. Type 2 diabetes, caused by dietary and other environmental factors, is a condition in which cells become overwhelmed by insulin and fail to properly respond; they become resistant to insulin (Harvard Medical School, 2018, para 5).”

Type I and II have great consequences for the neurons that are within the brain. High blood glucose levels can disrupt the brain’s functional connectivity. This is usually found in the brain where there are functional properties and brain matter. This can lead to the atrophy of the brain as well as shrinkage.

Moreover, the restriction of blood flow to the brain may also accrue, which is known by many as small vessel disease. This can become severe enough where vascular dementia starts to take place. In many of the cases, type II diabetes can be prevented by each individual person through proper nutrition along with some sort of cardio and or strength training.

However, if the individual doesn’t take the necessary steps to reduce blood glucose than he or she may experience accelerated aging and or death. Type II diabetes does increase the progression of functional declination within the human brain. However, if the individual is limited to what he or she can do then there is also nasal spray that is being developed by Harvard Medical School. According to Harvard Medical School, there are

“…ways to prevent these effects in people with type 2 diabetes. One of these ways involves a nasal spray called intranasal insulin (INI). When used, INI enters the brain and binds to receptors in its memory networks, including the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and insular cortex. As signaling within these memory networks become more efficient, the cognitive functions associated with these areas, such as learning and visual perceptions of spatial relationships, improve (Harvard Medical School, 2018, para 7).”

As we can see there will always be research going on in order to identify different ways that can help individuals with Type I and II diabetes, however, one should not take for granted what he or she has available to him or her as of right now. Proper nutrition and cardio and or strength training are very appropriate for one who is looking to reduce and or balance out his or her blood glucose within the human body.

Sugar and the Performance

As previously mentioned Type I diabetes, the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Furthermore, this can be a large issue especially for those who are going to try out for sports and or already participating in sports. Moreover, parents more than anybody else will be concerned about whether his or her child should participate in sports or not.

A study by York University shows exactly that. Within week-long research at York University participants wore 24-7 glucose monitors. While wearing these monitors the individuals performed a variety of sporting activities like tennis, basketball, and soccer. These actives were performed at different types of the day in order to see the fluctuation of the blood glucose within the participant’s body.

In addition, the participants also slept with the monitors, this allowed the researchers to have greater accuracy when it came to measuring the blood glucose amount. At the end of the research, the researchers found that sports were performed the highest when the blood glucose values were in the normal glycemic range. Furthermore, the researchers found that when the individual was hyperglycemic, the results were slightly reduced, and no major difference was found. Along with that, on the other hand, some individuals were hypoglycemic and within this case only saw minor reduction performance.

Overall the researched showed that even if the individual has high or low blood glucose, he or she can still participate in major activities without seeing a great reduction in performance. (York University, 2010) It is widely accepted that sugar does improve performance of him or her in his or her desired activity. Furthermore, according to Flora and Polenick (2013), it is beyond a reasonable doubt that drinking a beverage that contains sugar during an intense activity enhances concentration and improves performance. This statement can be supported by the University of Bath.

The University of Bath conducted a study, within this study there was a group of cycles that were assessed by the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for their endurance on the levels of glycogen. The cyclists were given sucrose and glucose-based drinks, within a short amount of time researchers found that glucose and sucrose prevented the decline in the storage of glycogen within the liver.

The researchers also found out that the exercise became much easier to the cycles and that thereafter they were feeling much better than what they did prior to the consumption of sucrose and glucose drinks. Along with the exercise becomes easier and easier the cyclist also felt better become of the way sucrose and glucose were digested by the cyclists’ gut. This is due to the different abortion rate along with different molecular structure. This molecular structure is composed of one fructose and one glucose makes up one sucrose and thereby allows for a better abortion by the gut (Morris, 2015). Overall the researcher found improved endurance by the cyclists along with a better digesting gut due to a combination of fructose and glucose drinks.

Sugar and the Cancer

To this day many researchers continue to investigate and do their due diligent in order to understand how and why sugar is so effective at feeding cancer and thereby growing it.  One of the main reasons that sugar is effective is because cancer cells have a large number of receptor cells. These receptor cells are especially sensitive to glucose and that once glucose is available the cells begin to promote growth at an extreme rate (Oncology Nutrition, 2018). Some of the risk factors that can promote the development of cancer are genetic susceptibility, inactivity, overweight, and obesity.

Genetic susceptibility has to do with the cells resisting to the insulin messages within the body. This means that these massages are much slower than an average massage within an average person. Furthermore, these massages are slower and thereby bring sugar into the blood much slower which thereby consequently makes the blood sugar stay higher for a longer time. The body sees this and starts to make even more unnecessary insulin. With more present insulin within the body. The body then decided to store it as fat (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018). Physical activity improves overall health, but if the individual chooses not to be active then he or she is at risk especially if the insulin level is not normal. Inactivity prevents the body from utilizing glucose. Thereby, keeping the blood glucose high without letting the excess blood leave the stream.

According to the National Cancer Institute exercise has the capacity to do magic especially when it comes to cancer. Furthermore, exercise can reduce inflammation, improve the immune system, lower the level of hormones such as insulin and estrogen, among many others (National Cancer Institute, 2017). Moreover, the individual should engage in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as a brisk walk or a bike ride (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2018). Overweight and obese people have developed fat around his or her abdomen. This fat is metabolically active and thereby leads to slower processing of the insulin signals. Along with slow processing speed, the body also struggles to clear blood sugar that may be in the system due to fat development over the abdomen (Cancer Research UK, 2018).

According to the National Cancer Institute, obese people more than not have low-level of inflammation, which can later as times goes on to cause DNA modification that eventually can lead to cancer. In addition, overweight and obese individuals are more likely than normal-weight individuals to have certain conditions or and disorders that can possibly be linked to or that cause chronic local inflammation and thereby become risk factors for certain factors (National Cancer Institute, 2017).


As we can now see we as individuals can’t get away from sugar. Sugar is essential to our survival. We get blood sugar from foods containing carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, whole grain, and low-fat dairy products.

However, some people more than other people tend to consume improper foods while at the same time deciding to be sedentary. These choices are poor as we learned earlier. It is important to understand that sugar is our responsibility and it is our job to understand what we put into our bodies and how we treat the body on the outside (American Institute of Cancer Research, 2018).

As an individual, if he or she is trying to avoid or reduce the possibility of him or her accruing cancer than he or she should stop consuming sodas as it is high in sugar and many other additives. Instead, he or she should consume water, tea, and or sparkling water. In regard to the food, one should consume lots of vegetables, healthy snacks like fruits and nuts. Lastly above all the individual should do some sort of activity in order to keep off the belly fat. Taking all the proper steps will ensure that the individual has put him or her onto a successful path where blood glucose is not a concern and cancer is nowhere near to be found. 


American Institute of Cancer Research. (2018). Sugar and cancer risk. In American Institute of Cancer Research. Retrieved from http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/sugar-and-cancer-risk.html

Cancer Research UK. (2018). Bodyweight facts and evidence. In Cancer Research UK. Retrieved from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/obesity-weight-and-cancer/bodyweight-facts-and-evidence#bodyweight_facts16

Harvard Medical School. (2018). Sugar and the brain. In Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain

Merriam-Webster. (2018). Diabetes. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diabetes

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Merriam-Webster. (2018). Telomere. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/telomere

Morris, S. (2015, November 27). Sugary water better for performance than some sports drinks –study. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/nov/28/sugary-water-performance-sports-drinks-study-cyclists

National Cancer Institute. (2017, January 27). Physical activity and cancer. In National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2018). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary. In Health.gov. Retrieved from https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/summary.aspx

Oncology Nutrition. (2018). https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/sugar-and-cancer/. In Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/sugar-and-cancer/

Polenick, C. A., & Flora, S. (2013, July). The Psychological Record. The effects of sugar consumption on human behavior and performance, 1-12. Retrieved from Research Gate (10.11133/j.tpr.2013.63.3.008).

Sugar Knowledge International. (2018). How sugar is made – the history. In Sugar Knowledge International. Retrieved from http://www.sucrose.com/lhist.html

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). What does it mean to have a genetic predisposition to a disease?. In Genetics Home Reference. Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/mutationsanddisorders/predisposition van Drielen, K., Gunn, D. A., Noordam, R., Griffiths, C. E., Westerndorp, R. G., de Crean, A. J.,

& van Heemst, D. (2015, June). Disentangling the effects of circulating IGF-1, glucose, and cortisol on features of perceived age. In National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from Pubmed.gov (10.1007/s11357-015-9771-3) York University. (2010, July 15). Type 1 diabetes affects athletic performance, new study finds.

In News: Medical Life Science. Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20100715/Type-1-diabetes-affects-athletic-performance-new-study-finds.aspx

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