Valvety cakes, Crunchy candies, warm cookies, Ice cream is so mouth watering. Are you craving dessert? Why? how does sugar affect the brain? what happens in your brain which makes sugary foods so hard to resist? 

As you already know what are sugars in our food. Sugar is a general term, which is used to describe a class of molecules called CARBOHYDRATES (made up of Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen) and its found in a wide variety of foods and drinks. Just check the labels of the sweet products you buy. Glucose, Sucrose, Maltose, Lactose, Dextrose and starch all are different form of sugars. Its not only present in candies or desserts, its also present in tomato sauce, yogurt, dried fruit, flavored water, soft drinks etc. Since sugar is everywhere so its really essential to understand how it effects our brain? What happens when sugar hit your tongue? Does eating a little bit of sugar make you crave more? It cause following behavious.

  1. Loss of Control
  2. Sugar cravings
  3. Increase tolerance to sugar. 

When you eat something sweet it travels downward to your stomach and eventually into your gut. There are sugar receptors there too. These are not taste buds but they do send signals to your brain that you are full or your body needs insulin to deal with the extra sugar you are eating. 
The major currency of our reward system is dopamine (A chemical or neurotransmitter) There are many Dopamine receptors in your Forebrain but they are not evenly distributed.

Sugar Addiction

Certain areas of your brain have dense clusters of these receptors. These dopamine hotspots are part of our reward system. Drugs like Alcohol, Nicotine and heroin into overdrive leaving some people to constantly seek that high. In other words to be addicted.

Sugar also release dopamine. voilently as drugs. it is rare among dopamine inducing foods. Brocolli for example have no effect on dopamine. That is why its so hard to eat those veges.

Lets say you are hungry and decide to eat a balanced healthy meal. When you eat that food your dopamine level spiked in a reward system hotspot. But if you eat that same dish many days in a row. Dopamine level will spike less and less and eventually leveling out. That’s because our brain evolve to pay special attention to new or different tastes on daily basis. Why? Two reasons.

First, It detects the food that has gone bad by microbes.

Second the more variety we have in our diet, the more variety of nutrients we get from our meal.

In other words eating lots of sugar continue to feel rewarding. It behaves little bit like a drug. Each sugar (among glucose, fructose, lactose etc. ) is a unique sugar so we feel more irresistible to eat it everytime. However we forget how badly it is affecting our brain.

Effects of sugar on our brain

Here are few affects of sugar on our brain

It Sets off Intense cravings for more sugar

When you take a bite of cereal, the sugar in these grains activate the sweet taste receptors part of the taste buds on the tongue. These receptors send a signal to the brain. which activates many areas of the forebrain. one of which is a Cerebral cortex. Different sections of Cerebral cortex test different taste. From the area where sweet flavor is detected, it instantly activates the brain reward system. It is a series of electrical and chemical pathways across several different regions of the brain. It is network but it helps answer a single subconscious question. Should i do that again. The warm fuzzy feeling you get when you taste grand maa chocolate cake get your reward system saying. mmm yesss… It just not activated by food. it can also be activated by socializing, sexual behavior and drugs. But over activating this reward system can kick start the series of unfortunate events. 

  • Loss of Control
  • Craving
  • Increase tolerance to sugar. 

It messes with your memory

Eating too much sugar causes resistance to insulin. This hormone that lowers the blood sugar level and regulate the function of brain cells. When insulin levels are low, cognition can be impaired. 

It impairs your learning skills

Sugar from free radicals in the brain that interfere with your nerve cells’ ability to communicate, which can then have repercussions in how well you remember instructions and process ideas.

It may contribute to depressions or anxiety

Sugar leaves you prone to mood swings as it uses up reserves of B vitamins and blocks chromium receptors which can lead to anxiety, depression and dramatic mental peaks and valleys.

It increases the risk for developing the Alzheimer’s disease

Sugary diet robs the brain of a substance that helps clear the brain of a toxin protein called amyloid that can build up and form the gummy plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

FASCINATING SCIENCE MAG