What Happens To Your Brain When You Give Up Sugar?

Brain When You Give Up Sugar

You may be surprised to learn that sugar consumption (in the UK and other developed countries at least) has actually fallen steadily over the past decade.

There may be several reasons for this, including changing tastes and lifestyles, with the popularity of low-carb diets, such as keto, increasing over the past decade.

A better understanding of the health dangers of excessive sugar consumption may also explain this decline.

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But people sometimes say they experience negative side effects when they try to eat less sugar. Headaches, fatigue or mood changes, which are usually temporary, are some of these symptoms. But it’s likely that these symptoms are related to how the brain reacts when exposed to sugary foods — and the biology of the “reward.

Carbohydrates come in many forms – including as sugars, which can occur naturally in many foods, such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk.

Table sugar – called sucrose – is found in sugar cane, sugar beets and maple syrup, while glucose and fructose are the main constituents of honey.

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As mass food production has become the norm, sucrose and other sugars are now added to foods to make them more palatable.

Beyond enhancing the taste and “mouth feel” of foods high in sugar, sugar has profound biological effects on the brain.

These effects are so significant that they have even given rise to a debate on whether one can be “addicted” to sugar – although this question is still being studied.

Table sugar, or sucrose, is a disaccharide made up of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose joined together.

Table sugar, or sucrose, is a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose joined together

Sucrose activates sweet taste receptors in the mouth, which leads to the release of a chemical called dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, that is, a chemical substance that transmits messages between nerves in the brain.

When we are exposed to a rewarding stimulus, the brain responds by releasing dopamine – which is why it is often called the “reward” chemical.

The rewarding effects of dopamine occur primarily in the part of the brain involved in pleasure and reward.

Reward governs our behavior, which means we are driven to repeat behaviors that cause the release of dopamine. Dopamine can cause us to seek out food, such as junk food.

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Sugar is able to activate these reward pathways in the brain, whether tasted in the mouth or injected into the bloodstream, as studies in mice have shown.

In rats, there is strong evidence that sucrose consumption can indeed alter dopamine-activated brain structures, as well as impair emotional processing and alter behavior in both animals and humans.

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It is obvious that sugar can have a powerful effect on us. This is why it is not surprising to see negative effects when we consume less sugar or completely eliminate it from our diet.

It was during this first phase of “sugar withdrawal” that mental and physical symptoms were reported, including depression, anxiety, brain fog and food cravings, as well as headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

This means that giving up sugar can be unpleasant, both mentally and physically, which can make it difficult for some to pursue the diet change.

Although sugar is used in many foods we eat, sugar consumption has declined in the United States and Europe

Although sugar is used in many foods we eat, sugar consumption has declined in the United States and Europe

The basis for these symptoms has not been thoroughly studied, but it is likely that they are also related to reward pathways in the brain.

Although the idea of ​​a “sugar addiction” is controversial, studies with rats have shown that, like other addictive substances, sugar is capable of causing binge eating, cravings, and cravings. withdrawal anxiety.

Other animal research has shown that the effects of sugar addiction, withdrawal, and relapse are similar to those of drugs.

But most of the research in this area involves animals, so it’s currently hard to say if the same is true for humans.

The reward pathways in the human brain have remained unchanged through evolution – and it’s likely that many other organisms have similar reward pathways in their brains.

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This means that the biological effects of sugar withdrawal seen in animals are likely to occur to some extent in humans too, as our brains have similar reward pathways.

A change in the chemical balance of the brain is almost certainly at the root of the symptoms reported in humans who cut out or reduce dietary sugar.

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