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A little extra sugar can make us crave just about anything, from cookies to condiments to coffee smothered in whipped cream. But its sweetness doesn't fully explain our desire. Instead, new research shows this magic molecule has a back channel to the brain.
Like other sweet-tasting things, sugar triggers specialized taste buds on the tongue. But it also switches on an entirely separate neurological pathway - one that begins in the gut, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Charles Zuker and colleagues report on April 15, 2020 in the journal Nature.
Tan, H., et al. (2020) The gut-brain axis mediates sugar preference. Nature. doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2199-7.
I believe I can accurately describe my former self as a carb addict. This news is not new. We've known for a while that the opioid centers in the brain react to sugar-sweetened or heavily carbed processed foods in a similar way addicts do to drugs. It goes to reason that there is a signal to the brain when these foods are consumed. The real issue is how people use this knowledge and make adjustments to improve their health. I'd venture to state that most don't make the connection of the potential of early death due to consumption of a dangerous drug like sugar.