You know how I feel about sugar. Well here is some proof that maybe it’s not such a good idea to consume it. I’m sure you all already knew that! If you need help getting off the SUGAR, talk to me! XOXO Marta
Humans have an intimate relationship with sugar — from birth to adulthood, we crave the sweet stuff more than almost any other food. But our love of sugar may go beyond that of a simple craving — maybe it’s time we looked at sugar like an addiction
That’s the upshot of a recent research published in Scientific Reports. In an experiment done on mini-pigs, they found that sugar can affect the brain’s reward system in a “manner similar to that of drugs of abuse” the authors suggest.
Whether sugar is addictive in and of itself is not settled science, Anne Landau, the paper’s senior author, tells Inverse. Instead, the findings show it alters the brain in a way that places it in notorious company.
“Sugar alters brain circuitry in ways that are similar to, for example, cocaine, which is well known to alter the dopamine and opioid systems in the brain,” she says.
Sugar’s influence on reward
Sugar’s impact on the brain’s reward system boils down to how it affects two types of receptors in the brain.
The first set are dopamine receptors — dopamine is a central player in the brain’s reward system, released during pleasurable activities. The second set are opioid receptors, which are also found all over the brain, but are particularly found in areas involved in eating-related rewards.
In the study, the sensitivity of both receptors is dampened when pigs were allowed unrestricted access to sugar water for one hour each day for twelve days. The pigs were also fed a normal diet, so sugar consumption was superfluous to their caloric needs.
After the fist day, the scientists noted that sugar intake had lowered the “availability” of opioid and dopamine receptors in the pigs’ brains. Sugar essentially dampened the ability of these receptors to bind to their natural counterparts, the results suggest.