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Study Finds That The Brain Needs Sweets, But Not The Fake Kind

September 22, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The brain likes sweets, and is not fooled by the artificial varieties, according to new U.S. research. The study in mice discovered a physiological brain signal critical for determining choice between sugars and sweeteners. The signal regulates dopamine levels, the chemical necessary for reward signaling in the brain, and is activated only when sugar is broken down into a form usable as fuel for cells to function. In other words, greater reward in the brain is attributed to sugars than to artificial sweeteners. To sidestep the obesity problem associated with sugar intake, the researchers suggest combining sweeteners with minimal amounts of sugar. That way energy metabolism doesn't drop, and caloric intake is minimized.
Tellez L et al., "Glucose utilization rates regulate intake levels of artificial sweeteners", The Journal of Physiology, September 22, 2013, © The Physiological Society
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