Diet, drugs, and the brain: Are ultra-processed foods a gateway to addiction?

M Carmen Blanco-Gandia, Macarena Gonzalez-Portilla, Marta Rodriguez-Arias


Foods that are rich in fats and sugars are pleasurable because they stimulate our reward circuits, the same circuits that are activated by drugs. In a context in which unhealthy diets and drug abuse are common from adolescence, it is important to investigate their consequences. This article reviews the relationship between especially tasty food, our brain’s reward system, and drug use. Studies with animal models have proven that an intermittent high-fat diet during adolescence increases the consumption of cocaine and ethanol. Moreover, recent research has shown the fundamental role of the diet in the development and treatment of addictions.


high-fat diet; sugar; pleasure; addiction; drugs

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