18:19 01 March 2017
Many people are considering giving up sugary snacks for Lent. While the move can lead to healthier lifestyle, one scientist says that giving up sugar for the next 40 days could lead to withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Jordan Gaines Lewis, a PhD candidate at Penn State College of Medicine, explained: “In neuroscience, food is something we call a 'natural reward.' In order for us to survive as a species, things like eating, having sex and nurturing others must be pleasurable to the brain so that these behaviors are reinforced and repeated.”
“Most of us prefer sweets over sour and bitter foods because, evolutionarily, our mesolimbic pathway reinforces that sweet things provide a healthy source of carbohydrates for our bodies.”
In his study, he observed 12 rats deprived of food for 12 hours each day and then given 12 hours of access to a sugary solution and regular chow. After a month of following this daily pattern, rats displayed behaviors similar to those on drugs abuse. He concluded that the study provides us insight into the neuro-chemical underpinnings of sugar dependence, withdrawal, and behavior.