Sugars are not only found in sweets. They are a class of carbohydrates that are found in most foods and drinks. You are probably already familiar with glucose, fructose and sucrose, but lactose, dextrose, and starch are also forms of sugar. So what happens when you eat something sweet?
As explained in the video below, the first thing that happens is activation of the tongue receptors which enable you to feel the sweet taste. This sends a signal to the brain stem (medulla oblongata) and the cerebral cortex, where our tastes are processed. Then, the cortex sends a signal to the reward system in the brain through a series of electrical and chemical path systems across several different regions of the brain, everything in order to get an answer to a subconscious question: “Should I do it again?” So, when you have that warm vague feeling satisfied after eating a bag of cookies, that’s the reward system in your brain that tells you to do it again.
However, food is not the only stimulant here. The reward system is also activated by sex, drugs and social contact. In moderate amounts this is not a bad thing. But when there is sugar overload, or when it’s consumed excessively over a long period of time, just like drugs, it can cause a series of events in the brain that trigger uncontrollable sugar cravings, loss of control and increased sugar tolerance.
There’s one major chemical accountable for this biological reward system – dopamine. In people with addiction, such as drug, nicotine, and alcohol, the dopamine receptors are sent into overdrive, which makes the person constantly search for that “high” feeling. This eventually results in addiction. The same thing happens with sugar, though not nearly as extreme as in the case of other addictive substances.
For more information watch the video: