How Sugar Affects The Brain by Nicole Avena

Being able to make complex dietary choices is an incredibly important skill in this age of crowded supermarkets and high fructose corn syrup. Wading through all of the available information is often half the battle.

Neuroscientist Nicole Avena explains the effect of sugar on our brains and bodies in a TED-Ed animated installment.

According to Avena, when we eat sugar, it triggers a certain part of our brain in a way that other types of nutrients do not. A signal is sent from the tongue to the cerebral cortex that activates a “rewards system.” This signaling encourages us to eat more to feel more of the “reward”…which is a release of dopamine. When put into overdrive, dopamine can be pretty addictive.

Those granola bars you were thinking of buying? Those might just be like buying drugs in that they are more addictive than you realize.

This doesn’t mean we have to fore-go all pleasure from eating sweet foods. The reward system evolved in the first place because complex sugars are a necessary part of our diet—they just need to be a *part* of the diet, not the majority. Understanding how to nourish yourself with wholesome foods and make better choices for sweet rewards will unravel an addiction to the processed sweet stuff.


If you want to learn how to break through your habit of overeating or binge eating, my Binge Eating Breakthrough ebook is for you. You'll learn powerful tools and distinctions to be able to understand and overcome your urges to eat more than you want. You'll also learn step-by-step strategies for managing your cravings and feeling control with food. If you want to check things out first, sign up for my free Binge Eating Breakthrough video course in the right sidebar.


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