28th May 2017

Sugar’s effect on the brain... An addiction similar to drugs

Food is considered one of the most natural rewards that gives human beings a feeling of pleasure and comfort. In general, food stimulates the dopamine hormone responsible for fun in the brain.

The reward circuit involves chemical and electrical crossings in many different areas of the brain where the dopamine chemicals known by neurotransmitters interact to simulate several types of feelings and behaviors.

Food’s effect on body's hormones vary depending on the food type, especially for sugar-rich foods that have a great impact and often result in addiction.

A study on animals revealed four main symptoms of addiction: overweight feeling, withdrawal symptoms, irrepressible urge to eat and addiction to certain substances that can make the user addicted to other food having similar chemical compositions.

Sweetened foods, like drugs, stimulate the dopaminergic neuron level of the mesencephalon in the brain. A group of laboratory mice, which was deprived of food except sweet foods for 12 hours a day for a whole month, showed behaviors similar to drug addiction. Mice were dominated by the urge to eat sweet food over any other types of food, and suffered from stress and depression symptoms during the food deprivation phase. The second part of the study revealed that mice suffering from sugar addiction, are more prone to rapid drug addiction compared to the other mice.

In the long term, repetitive sugar consumption changes the genetic composition and increases the presence of dopamine receptors in the midbrain (a section of the central nervous system that is associated with vision, hearing, circulation, sleep, vigilance and body temperature regulation) and the frontal lobe (part of the human brain located at the front of the parietal and temporal lobes because it is positioned in the front part of the lateral lobe and delimits the temporal lobe of the upper front).

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