How Fructose and Glucose Affect Brain Function

Brain foods? All foods are brain foods, in essence. And, researchers are working to better understand the connection between certain foods and the brain.

Within the brain, the hypothalamus regulates hunger and controls food intake and energy use.

Hypothalamic neuronal, or brain cell, activity affects the hypothalamus’ ability to maintain energy (calorie) balance and increases or decreases in response to the intake of glucose, a simple carbohydrate better know as sugar or corn syrup. Responses to glucose and fructose, the simple carbohydrate known as fruit sugar, are important in weight maintenance.

recent study administered glucose, fructose, and a saline control to normal-weight subjects. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) then detected nerve signals. Signaling, seen in the cortex but not in the hypothalamus, significantly increased with glucose and significantly decreased with fructose.

What all the hype? High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to type-2 diabetes and obesity. In recent research, weight gain and preference for high-fat foods followed high fructose intake. In previous research, glucose-responsive signaling was altered in obese subjects.

While more studies are needed, clarifying responses to sugars in the brain’s complex pathways has implications for weight control and diabetes prevention.

Maybe food choices really are mind over matter.


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