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This Fascinating Animation Shows How Sugar Affects Your Brain
By Jillian Wong, 14 Jan 2014
Sugar is one of the most widely consumed substances–it’s found in everything from bread, candy, ice cream, and soft drinks. If it’s yummy, there’s a high chance that the food you're eating contains sugar, but have you ever wondered how it affects your brain?
This fascinating animation by Dr Nicole Avena for TED-Ed explains how sugar causes your brain’s dopamine levels to spike, creating a sugar rush and causing you to crave more of it. She also reveals how the increasing amount of sugar in food today is increasing our desire for a sugar high, much like a drug addiction.
Watch the video below.
Cookies, lollipops, cakes, and ice cream–is your mouth watering?
Examples of sugar found on supermarket labels
Sugar is found in a variety of foods like tomato sauce, yoghurt, dried fruit, flavored water, and granola bars
When you take a bite of your morning cereal, the sugar within activates the sweet taste receptors on your tongue which send signals to your brain
The warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you eat something tasty is your body’s reward system urging you to have more
Socializing, sexual behavior, and drugs are some other examples of things and experiences which activate your reward system
Sugar receptors in your stomach send signals to your brain saying it’s full, or to request more insulin to process the sugar
Alcohol, nicotine, and heroin cause your dopamine levels to spike, and sugar has that same effect though it’s not as strong
Eating the same dish constantly causes dopamine levels to decrease over time and your body no longer craves such food
That’s because our brains evolved to pay special attention to new or different tastes
This enables us to detect food that has gone bad and having a varied diet increases the likelihood of getting all the required nutrients
Consuming high levels of sugar constantly causes dopamine levels to rise instead of dip; it is essentially behaving like a drug, and it’s one reason why so many people are hooked on sugary foods
[via Visual News and Laughing Squid, images and video via TED-Ed]
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