The next time you do your grocery shopping, you may want to check the labels of the food for ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, and glucose. These are examples of refined carbohydrates, and the Huffington Post reports that they may cause cravings that are disturbingly similar to those that drug addicts experience.

In a study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers led by David Ludwig worked with 12 overweight and obese young men who were asked to take two drinks. One had cornstarch, which is known to have low sugar content, while another contained corn syrup, which has a high glycemic index.  

Aside from the blood sugar spike, researchers also saw, via MRI brain scans, an increase of activity in the nucleus accumbensthe part of the brain which is linked to cravings and reward management—in those who took the corn syrup drink. As refined carbs are quickly broken down by the body, sugar crash happens,  resulting in sudden and strong pangs of hunger.  

"Refined carbohydrates seem to be able to provoke food cravings many hours after consumption, at least in susceptible people," explains study co-author Ludwig. "Limiting these foods could help overweight people avoid overeating."

(Photo by Matt Gibson via Flickr Creative Commons)

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