This Is What Sugar Does To Your Brain

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TEDEd/YouTube

Sugar – the meth of the food world.

In modern day supermarkets, which are packed full of cheap processed goods, the sweet stuff is practically everywhere.

For many people it is the first port of call as a comfort snack or a quick pick me up – but why does your brain think you need sugar?

Ted Ed’s Nicole Avena explains all in this brilliant video:

As reported by the i100, whenever we eat sweet food it activates a chain of sensory experiences which send signals to the cerebral cortex.

This sets of a further set of signals which leaves the brain trying to answer one very simple question, ‘should I do that again?’

With sugar the answer is almost exclusively yes.

The body then releases dopamine, a chemical which is activated by pleasurable experiences.

The same chemical can be triggered by drugs, social experiences and sexual experiences – but not all foods have the same effect.

As Avena points out, broccoli does not – not at all.

But back to sugar.

The human body evolved to reward humans for trying new things. So when healthy meals are consumed again and again we grow tired of them due to a decreased dopamine effect. This prompts us to try out new foods to gain that mild high once more, and potentially gain a great balance of nutrients.

When you eat small quantities of sugar there is a dopamine spike, followed by the levels balancing back out. But when we gorge on the stuff the dopamine in your system remains high.

So it is like any other drug. The more you have it the more you will crave it and come to fall back on it time and time again.

So it is best to break the cycle and incorporate sugar into a balanced diet where it isn’t consumed in high quantities at every meal.


Kieron Curtis

Kieron Curtis

An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest... not forgetting his time at ASDA.