Sugar Impacts Brain's Hunger Signals

We know that, for health, weight and blood sugar concerns, we should cut back on sugar. Reducing sugar has many health benefits, so we try to eat less of it whenever we can. We make lower-carb food choices, cut out sweet drinks, give up candy. And, yet, there is still a lot of sugar in our day. Now, scientists at the Univ. Michigan have given us more incentive to avoid sugar as they have seen that the sweet substance alters fruit flies’ biology in a way that harms the brain. Their work was published in Nature Communications.

They saw that flies that were fed a sugar-heavy diet had depleted levels of crucial metabolites needed for a healthy brain. Metabolites are molecules that play various roles within the body. Twenty metabolites were affected — including ones that tell the brain to stop eating because the individual isn’t hungry, fuel the brain and are linked to staving off depression.

The sugar diet had an immediate impact, not in their weight but in their brain. “What we found was a metabolic remodeling,” said senior author Prof. Monica Dus, of the Univ. Michigan. “It wasn’t just a gradual accumulation from an early to longer exposure, but by the seventh day on a high sugar diet, these fruit flies had a completely different metabolic profile.”

This new find makes us want to cut sugar even more than we did. Watching our carb and sugar intake isn’t just crucial for maintaining healthy blood sugar; it’s essential for a healthy brain! While it was already known that sweet foods can make you crave more sweet foods, the fact that it is biological and caused by altered brain chemistry is news. This means that, by cutting sugar, you can actually make your body have an easier time following a diet. If you’re cutting out sugar, your brain can more easily tell you that you’re not hungry.

It sounds crazy to say you can reset your brain but, if it’s possible, it’s worth a shot. Many of us are already avoiding sugar to aid our blood sugar; this gives us another incentive to stick to our plan.

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