5 Things Everyone Should Know About Sugar

But does it help the medicine go down?

Sugar is everywhere in our lives, but there are a lot of misconceptions about the differences between types of sugar, how much we should be eating, and what it does to our bodies. 

Hank Green has talked about sugar on SciShow a number of times, answering some of the most pressing questions on the subject. They have now been put together in a compilation video that answers these five big questions and more:

1. Why do we love sugar so much?

Eating sugar causes a spike in dopamine production, which is a chemical our brains make to activate our reward center, causing happy feelings to be associated with it. 

It is commonly reported that this is the same part of the brain that gets activated when people do hard drugs, and while that's technically true, it also lights up when we give hugs and see kittens. 

Hank explains that the reason why we evolved this fondness for sugar may have been the key to our survival, but now is an ever-growing health threat.

2. Is high-fructose corn syrup really that bad?

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was developed as a potent sugar substitute and it quickly became integrated into many sweet food products. In recent years, though, concerns about its link to diabetes and obesity has caused consumers to demand products without it.

Hank explains how HFCS is different from regular table sugar and what that means for how our bodies react to it.

3. Why does sugar taste sweet?

We know that our brains enjoy the taste of something sweet, but if all the food we eat is just chemicals, why does our brain perceive them in different ways?

Hank explains the science of sweetness and why.

4. What was the first artificial sweetener?

We now have a variety of sugar-free sweeteners that can allow us to get the same taste as sugar, without the calories. These include commonly used sweeteners like aspartame (NutraSweet), saccharin (Sweet'N Low), and sucralose (Splenda) among others, but what was the very first?

According to Hank, the first sweet alternative to sugar was lead, and he explains why that was obviously a very, very bad idea.

5. Does sugar really make kids hyper?

Everyone is familiar with the concept of a "sugar buzz" where eating sweets makes someone (usually a child) really hyper; a period that is typically followed by a "sugar crash" and a complete lack of energy. On the surface, it makes sense, since our bodies need sugar to make energy, plus the dopamine gives us a happy feeling. But, that doesn't seem to be the case.

As Hank says in the video, there's more than meets the eye when a group of adults is in a room full of hyperactive, sugar-fueled children.

Learn everything you need to know about sugar here: