If the existing body of research on refined high-sugar diets isn’t enough to convince you, new research out of the University of Michigan has found another good reason to change your eating habits. Too much sugar is linked to an increase in appetite, the reasons for which are often associated with increased insulin levels and insulin resistance. The new study has identified another reason sugar increases appetite, and it involves the brain.
Eating too much sugar is linked to a number of health issues, including insulin resistance, the development of type-2 diabetes and certain cancers, increased heart disease risk, vision loss, and more. The new study out of the University of Michigan has found that it may also reduce the effect of dopamine in the brain.
Within the brains of flies, rodents, and yes, humans, there are neural circuits that depend on dopamine, a neurotransmitter, to deal with sweet-tasting foods. When eating a high-sugar diet, the study found, the reward signal in the brains of flies was either delayed or reduced, dampening their sense of satiety from food and increasing the amount they ate.
The researchers found that when these reward signals are reduced, the flies in the study wouldn’t feel as satisfied and would end up eating for hours on end…the same sort of endless snacking and munching someone may find themselves doing with a box of cookies or a bag of chips. As expected, the flies that ate too much ended up gaining weight.
Fortunately, the study found that replacing a high-sugar diet with a heathier diet reversed this dampening effect, the neural circuits regained their sensitivity, and food consumption ultimately decreased. This may help explain the reduced appetite many people report feeling when they switch to a low-carb eating protocol like the keto diet.