Friday, 22 August 2014

What Sugar Does to The Brain

Did you know that sugar is in many processed foods these days? And I'm not talking about cookies and cakes. It's in many of our crisps, barbecue sauces, breads, oven chips, chicken nuggets and breadcrumbed fish, too. Look for things like sugar, dextrose, corn syrup - it's all sugar at the end of the day - and you'll find it listed in the coatings or in the actual meat itself. A bit weird, right?

And what does all this do to the brain? 

This video explains how eating sugar triggers the 'reward' system in the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, into craving more and more of it, for pleasure. Eventually, because of the way our brain is wired, if we eat enough of it, we start to need more and more of that food to get that same pleasure 'hit' - eating too much makes our dopamine receptors go wonky. So whereas for someone not used to very much sugar a small caramel sweet will be enough - for someone who eats it every day, they'll need a few chocolate bars before they get that same feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. See what's happening there?

What's worrying, is that scientists have only discovered in the last five years that sugar can have the same effect on the brain as other addictive drugs like nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and cannabis. 

Have a look at the video here: 



Don't get me wrong. Some sugar is important, and we need small amounts of it for energy. But most of us probably wouldn't expect to see sugar in our shop-bought savoury foods. Which could mean that by the time you decide to treat yourself to that afternoon slice of cake in the coffee shop, you could already have eaten more of it than you think. 

What do you think? Are you surprised by this video? Is there too much hidden sugar in our foods? 

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