High Sugar Consumption Has Drug-Like Effects On Your Brain After 12 Days, According To New Research

Cadrene Heslop

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Like your body, your brain needs adequate energy to function. Simon Laughlin, a Cambridge University professor, says your brain needs a lot of fuel.

Even at rest, your brain cells consume 20 percent of your body's energy. Why? Simon explains that processing and transmitting data through electrical signals is exhausting.

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Your body's primary source of energy is glucose. And your brain needs more glucose than any other human organ. Vera Novak, MD, Ph.D., and a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center associate professor says brains are nerve dense. The nerve cell richness makes your brain the most energy-demanding organ.

Most "sugar and the brain" research has proven sugar is addictive. And have likened the receptor responses as similar to taking doses of cocaine.

A recent study confirms the drug-like effects of sugary foods on the brain's reward center. Furthermore, the research evidence shows that sugar changes brain chemistry after 12 days. Thus, foods with excess sugars become more irresistible.

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The test subjects of the study were Göttingen minipigs. Before the investigation, researchers used PET imaging to measure dopamine and opioid activity. Then, the pigs had access to a sugar solution for 1 hour for 12 days straight. The researchers again scanned the pig's brains during and after the study.

Dopamine and opioids drive addiction and the brain's pleasure-seeking behavior. Thus, the scans of the researchers focused on the dopamine and opioid system of the pig's brain.

Though performed on animals, the results show that sugar is an addictive substance. Yet, it is the most accepted and consumed drug worldwide.

Michael Winterdahl, a sugar researcher, says: “After just 12 days of sugar intake, we could see major changes in the brain’s dopamine and opioid systems. In fact, the opioid system, which is that part of the brain’s chemistry that is associated with well-being and pleasure, was already activated after the very first intake.”

When you get addicted to sugar, cravings lead to overeating, weight gain, and even mood swings.

To stay healthy, US dietary guidelines recommend sugar be less than 10% of your per day calorie intake. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, you would consume 50 grams of sugar or about 12.5 teaspoons.

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