General, Research, Technology

What do sugar and drugs have in common?

Have you ever been sad and youtried to get rid of despondency by eating sweets, cakes and other high-sugar foods? Surely you read about the property of sweets to save a person from depression in many scientific articles. Indeed, in the course of numerous studies, it was proved that sugar acts on the pleasure centers of the human brain in the same way as drugs. However, there are scientists who are doubtful about the results of these studies and are sure that sugar cannot affect the human brain so much. One of them is Professor Michael Winterdahl of Aarhus University in Denmark. He and his colleagues decided to finally dispel the myth of the similar properties of sweets and drugs, but the results of their study surprised even them.

Shot from the movie "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

The scientific work and its results weretold in the scientific journal Scientific Reports. According to Michael Winterdahl, he had no doubt that sugar somehow affected the brain and human behavior. However, he was very skeptical about comparing sweets with drugs. In an attempt to dispel this myth, he and his colleagues conducted an experiment on pigs. The choice fell on these animals precisely because if they chose people, external factors could influence the results. For example, participants in an experiment could eat foods that would be prohibited in the course of scientific work.

Some studies say sweets can make depression worse

How does sugar affect the brain?

The essence of the experiment conducted by scientistsconsisted in the fact that for 12 days they gave the pigs two liters of sweet water per day. At the very beginning of the study and at its very end, the brains of animals were scanned through a tomographic apparatus. Despite the assumption of scientists about the weak effect of sugar on the brain, strong changes were noticed after the first day of the “sweet diet”. Sugar really strongly influenced the so-called pleasure centers, releasing dopamine and opioids. These substances are known to cause people a sense of happiness.

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In the end, scientists agreed that the samechanges in the brain are observed in people with cocaine addiction. However, the researchers noted that the same effect can be achieved by communicating with people and learning new skills. But most people tend to enjoy themselves as quickly as possible, and therefore prefer to simply jam their grief with sweets.

On the example of pigs, we saw that naturalthose who enjoy themselves, like social interactions, are relegated to the background when they have access to a lot of sweetened water, ”explained Michael Winterdahl.

With all this, scientists believe that suchexperiments are important to conduct with the participation of people. But this is a much difficult task, because the participants will need to be carefully monitored. They will be contraindicated to eat certain types of foods, while they will be required to consume a certain amount of sweet foods per day. And not all people are ready for such requirements.

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Thus, a common feature between sweets anddrugs proved only on the example of animals. The likelihood that the human brain does not respond to large amounts of sugar as well as to drugs remains.