Several studies have explored the fascinating link between sugar and the reward center that can be found within our brains. A team of researchers from Denmark has learned more about how sugar interacts with the chemistry of our brains with the help of some experiments on pigs.
The researchers decided to use pigs instead of other conventional animal models because it allowed them to track the processes more closely. They could also avoid other factors that activate the reward system in the case of human brains, among which we can count video games, romance, and others.
It is also worth noting that the brain of a big is more complicated than that of rodents, following patterns similar to those of human brains. It is too big enough to be scanned by using human brain scanners.
During the study, seven pigs received two liters (0.5 gallons) of sugar water per day over 12 days. The brains of the pigs were scanned before they received sugar water for the first time, after the first and after the 12th day.
Why sugar is addictive
After 12 days, the researchers observed significant changes related to the dopamine and opioid systems. The opioid system is linked will well-being and pleasure, and it was activated after the first intake.
Data collected by previous studies on sugar intake and neurotransmitters that are used by brains when rewarding experiences are encountered was also used. Sugar can alter the circuitry of the brain, an effect that has been compared with that on addictive drugs.
According to one of the lead researchers who contributed to the study, natural stimuli are pushed into the background as their brain beings to focus on sugar and other artificial stimuli. The rush is similar to dopamine, and it can offer a significant feel-good effect. Further research will take place, and a paper was published in a scientific journal.