What Sugar Does To Your Brain



Sugar-sweet it's in everything we eat and honestly makes life worth living but if you ever wondered what exactly is going on in your brain as you binge eat ice cream and raw cookie dough dark living room alone on a Saturday night. Not that I do that I'm Shannon and I'm a neuroscience Ph.D. candidate and this is your brain on shipping sugar.

As we consume it refers to a variety of carbohydrates created from just three elements carbon hydrogen and oxygen. Well, this stuff is naturally found in most plants it is also artificially added to just about everything we consume. From soft drinks to salad dressing now when I lick this lollipop sugar binds to my sweet taste receptors on my tongue. That information is sent to on my brain via the cranial nerves is relayed to several brain regions. Before reaching the primary regions before reaching the primary taste cortex or the gustatory cortex.

The gustatory cortex is responsible for the perception of taste after perceiving perception of sugar intake. This region then signals sugar intake. This region then signals your VTA and nucleus accumbens you know the good old reward pathway. These areas the good old reward pathway in response release large amounts of dopamine stimulating your rewarding response letting your brain know that this lollipop is dope as hell but this pathway is also activated before I put any of the sweet stuff in my body. In fact, just seeing candy Prime's my brain for the sugar-based reward activation.

Human brain imaging studies have also shown that other sensory cues such as the smell of a fresh batch of cookies coming out of the oven or just the site of your favorite ice cream store is enough to excite these dopamine-rich areas of the brain. Does that mean that someone could truly be a chocoholic? No more chocolate for you well studies shows that the overconsumption of highly sweetened foods such as soft drinks and sweetened foods is comparable to drug addiction.

Candy is comparable to drug addiction. Further sugar overconsumption can cost cross-tolerance to other drugs of abuse a hallmark of addictive substances as well as induce a dependent like a state. But hey it can't be as addictive as cocaine right. One study in rats found that the reward of sugar could actually surpass the reward of cocaine even in cocaine-addicted rats that's right when cocaine-addicted rats when given the choice between drug or soft drinks rats consistently choose sugar drinks showing the highly reinforcing power of it.

One of my favorite ways to wash down is a big gulp of soda and I'm not alone in fact 40% of Americans report drinking soda on a daily basis. Its popularity has grown from year to year among all kinds of people. So what effect is this soft drink obsession having on my brain? Well, it turns out a lot. studies have revealed that increased soda intake is correlated with increased risk of ischemic stroke, dementia, as well as Alzheimer's disease further soda drinking, is associated with lower total brain volume and worse episodic memory. Okay well, I could just switch out my soda for a diet soda right. Well, it turns out that artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks while calorically invisible can still have substantial effects on the brain.

Well, I may not be able to consciously tell the difference between regular Coke and Coke Zero, my brain can. One study found that Zero, unlike real sugar artificial sweeteners, does not excite dopaminergic the open and dope I'm so jittery doping anergic brain cannot excite dopamine-rich midbrain area.

One study found that rich midbrain area, unlike real sugar artificial sweeteners, does not excite dopamine-rich midbrain areas associated with reward. Further areas associated with reward. fMRI studies show that those who drink diet soda regularly actually displayed altered reward processing compared to nondiet soda drinkers suggesting that nondiet soda drinkers downing diet soda may actually change how your brain processes change sweetness so died or not sweetness.

So, died or not soda is powerful stuff there are two truths in this world skydiving is dumb and you should never do it and kids love candy. Oh, they know good Tammy one they hate it but how does sugar overconsumption affect children's developing brains. Well, studies in rodents suggest that overconsumption of sugar during adolescence may actually result in a reduction of reward result processing and out don't hood well this processing.

This may seem like a good thing and motivation for reward is a hallmark symptom of psychiatric disorders such as depression. The truth is your brain needs sugar in the form of glucose. It depends on it and while it can be supplemented glucose cannot be replaced, your brain relies on a continuous supply of glucose via the bloodstream and it is the main consumer of about 20 percent of the glucose derived energy.

Glucose in the brain provides the energy needed for the brain neurotransmission the substrate for production of neurotransmitters and appears to play a central role in learning and long-term memory storage. But a little sugar goes a long way so be sure to exercise with moderation.