We love sugar, most people say they have a sweet tooth and some do everything they can to try and avoid sugar addiction. New research has come to light that suggests there’s actually nothing we can do about loving sugar, so maybe it’s time to just give in.
Our Brains are Hard Wired to Love Sugar
New research carried out by scientists at MIT has found a neural circuit located between the lateral hypothalamus and the ventral tegmental area of the brain. Problems with the feedback loop connecting these parts of the brain, known as the ‘LH-VTA’ loop, have been associated with certain drug problems and sexual addictions. With this in mind, scientists did as they always do and began to research this loop to see if it was potentially linked to any other addictions, like food and it turns out this ‘LH-VTA’ loop is responsible for our uncontrollable cravings for sugar.
The researchers found that the loop is a reward circuit and they could turn this on in mice by manipulating the genes in this area of the brain. They found that when the loop was ‘on’ mice that were full kept eating sugar but ignored food pellets. These mice were so eager to get more sugar, that they even crossed electrified flooring to reach the sugar. When the reward loop was turned ‘off’ the mice ignored the sugar because they were already full.
Finding the ‘Reward Circuit’ Could Help us Fight Sugar Addiction
The scientists theorised that this loop exists in our brain as we used to need to find high energy sources of nutrition when we were hunter gatherers and food was short. Nowadays it has had a very negative effect on the numbers of obese and diabetic people in our society, and finding the cause is the beginning to finding the cure for sugar addiction.