A brain wired on refined sugar may be more susceptible to opioid addiction and overdose, according to research by Prof. Francesco Leri in the Department of Psychology.
Tens of thousands of North Americans have died recently of fentanyl-related overdoses, as government and health officials scramble to address the growing crisis.
Leri is studying possible links between high-sugar diets and changes in the brain’s responses to opioids.
A substantial amount of evidence suggests that refined sugar activates the brain’s reward centres in the same way as addictive drugs, Leri says.
He says improving diets may help reduce environmental factors that contribute to opioid addiction.