Ever wonder why you get a sweet tooth? You know, that time when all your mouth wants is something sweet? I never quite understood why my mouth would get random cravings for sweets, candies, chocolates etc…
Is this a junk food addiction? Can we really refer something as innocent as candy and chocolate to something as bad as nicotine and smoking? In a way we can. These sweets or desserts have a lot of sugar. The sugar then produces something called dopamine. This is known as a “feel-good”neurotransmitter , according to the ABC news article. Sugar can cause a rush of “happy” chemicals throughout the body, making this a very unique substance.
There was a rat study done on the addictiveness of sugar and the dopamine that is produced by it. For one month, the rats were starved for a long period of time in a day, but were then given a high dosage of sugar. After this meal, a scientist by the name of Bart Hoebel, a psychology professor for Princeton University, recognized that the rats experienced a large amount of dopamine and that their morphine/opium receptors were activated.
Opiate receptors (opium) are a protein found in the brain. Some results of these receptors are pain relief and stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain signaling reward.
After a few days of this sugar diet, the rats were hooked onto sugar. The more sugar dosage they ingested, more dopamine receptors were created. When the scientists decided to take the sugar out of the rats diets and chemically blocked the dopamine using a specific drug, this increased the rats anxiety so intensely that their teeth started to chatter. Hoebel said that teeth chattering is a sign of withdrawal.
When the rats were finally allowed to have sugar again, they ingested even more than they did before. It reached a point that they started to binge. Binging is an excessive amount of ingesting of something. The rats would have all of the sugar at once, instead of little increments of time. Hoebel said, “It’s too early to know how this might apply to humans. And, because sugar is a substance every mammal needs for a quick source of energy, it’s hard to know whether this was something that was normal — that the body rewards us with pleasure for eating something is naturally needs”.
I know when I go a certain amount of time without something I love to eat, for example macaroni and cheese, once I have access to it I guess you can say I eat as much as I can of it. However, macaroni and cheese is not something we NEED. Sugar is something our bodies do need. Not providing our bodies of something we need, will give us more desire for it every day we prolong this deprivation.
What are things that you love that you don’t think you could go certain lengths of time without eating? Imagine going a month, like the rats did, without this food you eat multiple times in a month, week, or even a day. Think about how much of that one substance or food you would eat or drink once you finally had access to it again after that long period of time. Comment below your favorite food or drink that you don’t think you can go without. You can easily say, this is your sweet tooth.