hero image

The brain uses much energy relative to other body parts, most from glucose. However, it seems that the typical American diet may have a lot of sugar which is not good for the brain. 

Sugar triggers the brain to release dopamine 

Dopamine release is a response to food, which has a complicated effect on human brains. Eating has the same effect on dopamine as addictive substances. But, unlike what most people believe, it doesn’t promote pleasure. Instead, dopamine release urges people to continue engaging in behaviors supporting survival. 

It is vital to note that dopamine is a neurotransmitter released in the brain region responsible for rewarding behavior when someone consumes sugar and fats. Virginia Tech’s Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s Alexandra DiFeliceantonio argues that oral sensory is part of the picture. Still, there are stomach sensors that detect sugar and fat and alert the brain to release dopamine. 

Sugar boosts dopamine levels by up to 140%

High sugar and fat foods can boost dopamine levels in the striation by around 200% relative to typical levels. This is a significant increase compared to addictive substances like nicotine and alcohol. One research established that sugar could increase dopamine levels by 135%-140%, with another finding that fat boosts levels by 160%, but it takes longer. Drugs like methamphetamine can boost dopamine levels tenfold, with cocaine almost trebling the effect. 

The brain is constantly changing and rewiring itself through a process called neuroplasticity. When the brain gets used to stimulation because of sugar and drug use, it can result in intolerance. With sugary foods, one has to consume more to have a satisfying feeling, an addiction hallmark.  

There is disagreement among medical professionals and scientists regarding food addiction definition. Although there are indeed substances that cause dependence, the issue of food addiction is still debatable. 

According to the World Health Organisation, daily sugar intake should be around six teaspoons. However, this is a major adjustment considering most people consume around 20 teaspoons of sugar daily.