Sugar influences the brain like drugs

Many people “seize” the stress, fatigue and depression with sweets. Scientists call this phenomenon the “sugar rush”. It is believed that it is caused by the fact that sugar affects the so-called pleasure centers in the human brain.

a Lot of work shows that consumption of sugar-after a period of abstinence from food makes a person more energetic and happier. But there are other studies whose results are the opposite.

researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, decided to find out how sugar affects the brain.

“there is No doubt that sugar is having [on the body] multiple physiological effects, and there are many reasons why it is harmful to health. But I doubt that sugar has a [big] impact on our brain and behavior. I was hoping to dispel this myth,” says first author Michael Winterdale (Michael Winterdahl).

But hopes of a scientist is not justified: it turned out that sugar affects the reward circuit of the brain just like drugs.

the article presented in the journal Scientific Reports, the experts describe the experiment with the seven dwarf’s pet pig breed göttingen minipig.

for 12 days, animals received daily two liters sweetened sugar water, to which access was not restricted.

Before the test, after the first day and at the end of the experiment, the researchers obtained images of the brains of pigs using computed and positron emission tomography.

According to the researchers, after 12 days of “the sweet life” minipilot they observed serious changes in the dopamine and opioid systems of the brain. The latter was activated already after the first day of the experiment.

moreover, the changes recorded in animals were very similar to those observed in the brains of people addicted to cocaine.

the scientists explain that when we get some significant positive experience, the brain rewards us with feelings of pleasure, happiness and benefitsapolokia. This can occur under the influence of natural stimuli such as sex or socializing, or learning something new.

meanwhile, the artificial stimuli (e.g., drugs) as well as natural, activate a reward system, where neurotransmitters are released such as dopamine and opioids (e.g., endorphins).

“If sugar can change the reward system in the brain in just 12 days, as we have seen in the case of pigs, it is obvious that natural stimuli, such as learning or social interaction, being marginalized and replaced with sugar and/or other artificial incentives. We all desire tides dopamine, and if that gives us better or more “a kick in the head”, then we choose it,” says Winterdale.

According to the scientist, ideally, such studies should be conducted with the participation of the people. However, they are more difficult to control, and on the levels of neurotransmitters may be affected by many factors that distort the results.

“Pig is a good alternative, because her brain is more complex than the rodent brain, has a brain like a human [brain], and it is large enough to visualize deep structures” – explains the choice of model animals Winterdale.

However, no clinical studies about the effects of sugar on the human brain will probably remain open. Moreover, different scientific groups have come to contradictory conclusions.

Recently, “News.Science” ( told about the study that showed that eating sweets does not affect the mood of the people. They also found that such “doping” can increase fatigue and impair memory and reduce concentration.

Recall that to harm the body and the substitutes: they can lead to the development of diabetes and, contrary to popular belief, does not promote weight loss, but only to hinder him.

Text: News.Science