This Is Your Brain On Sugar | Amy Reichelt | [email protected]
This Is Your Brain On Sugar
Ever indulged in something sweet, only to end up wanting more, and more, and…more? Yup, same here—like, every time. Now, science knows why.
The reward centers in our brains respond differently to different types of sugars, according to new findings presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology's annual meeting. Researchers served 24 volunteers drinks containing either fructose (the sugar found in fruit that's also added to many processed foods and drinks) or glucose (a sugar that is also found in fruit and processed food, as well as other plants, like grains). Then, they had the volunteers look at images of high-calorie foods like chocolate cake while undergoing brain scans.
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Analyzing the scans, researchers found that the food porn lit up the reward centers in the brains of the fructose drinkers, but not so much in the glucose drinkers. What's more, the volunteers who sipped fructose reported feeling hungrier and having more desire to eat compared to their glucose-sipping counterparts. In other words, guzzling glucose sends out the totally logical message,Stop, belly full!With fructose? It's more like,Heck yeah, keep it coming!
That's because the body processes the two sugars differently, says study author Kathleen Page, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Glucose is taken up by your pancreas, which responds by pumping out insulin to tell you that you're satisfied and make food seem less appealing. But fructose is absorbed by the liver, which doesn't do any of that stuff.
And since you can't really change the way that your body handles fructose, it's probably best to avoid eating too much of it in the first place. Just remember, we're talking aboutaddedfructose, which pops up in processed foods like cookies and soda. Fruit, fructose's actual source, is totally fine. "The amount of fructose you're getting there is relatively small, and it contains fiber to help slow down processing of the sugar," Page says.
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