My Life in Culture: Violinist Gwendolyn Masin
My Life in Culture: Violinist Gwendolyn Masin

Sarah Finnan

Crochet: How to wear the beachy summer staple
Crochet: How to wear the beachy summer staple

Sarah Finnan

Meet IMAGE staffer Megan Burns, hockey player and editorial powerhouse
Meet IMAGE staffer Megan Burns, hockey player and editorial powerhouse

IMAGE

The top tech investments to help keep your life on track
The top tech investments to help keep your life on track

IMAGE

This charming Cork cottage is on the market for €450,000
This charming Cork cottage is on the market for €450,000

Sarah Finnan

Social Pictures: Jameson’s tenniscore summer soirée
Social Pictures: Jameson’s tenniscore summer soirée

IMAGE

5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life
5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life

Jennifer McShane

Changing the script: Claire Mooney and Nell Hensey of Pure Divilment Pictures
Changing the script: Claire Mooney and Nell Hensey of Pure Divilment Pictures

Meg Walker

Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax
Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax

Nick Charalambous

This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of family life
This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of...

IMAGE Interiors & Living

Image / Editorial

Love sugar? Scientists have found a way to banish your sweet tooth


By Grace McGettigan
31st May 2018
Love sugar? Scientists have found a way to banish your sweet tooth

Do you have a sweet tooth? Sometimes a mere mention of chocolate is enough to have us salivating. Unfortunately, it’s also contributing to rising global obesity levels. But now, neuroscientists may be able to help.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute have found a way to make sweet food taste bad, and bitter food taste nice. The study, which was published in the academic journal Nature, was carried out on laboratory mice. It involved re-wiring the brain so that certain flavours are interpreted differently. Lead author of the study, Charles Zuker is hopeful the method will be transferable to humans.

According to the research, sweet and bitter tastes are detected by different parts of the tongue, and these signals are then sent to different parts of the brain. By genetically modifying the mice, the neuroscientists were able to change the way mice responded to particular flavours. One experiment involved the mice drinking tasteless water. When the ‘sweet’ receptor in the brain was switched on, the mice gulped the water as if it were sweet Coca-Cola. However, when the ‘sweet’ part of the brain was switched off with a drug and the bitter part was activated; the mice refused to drink.

This suggests mice (like humans) get joy from sweet food. They (like us) are likely to consume more sweet food than they’re hungry for, simply because it makes them feel better. It’s called ‘comfort eating’ for a reason. If we can switch off the ‘sweet’ receptor in our brain (thus eliminating that ‘feel-good’ factor), we’ll be more inclined to eat less sugar. “It would be like taking a bite of your favourite chocolate cake but not deriving any enjoyment from doing so,” said co-author of the study, Li Wang, in a statement. “After a few bites, you may stop eating, whereas otherwise, you would have scarfed it down.”

Food for thought, eh?

Photo: Thomas Kelley, Unsplash