“Beyond acting as a form of meditation, reading helps build the neuro-networks that improve our lives immeasurably—including reducing sugar cravings. As mbg Collective member David Perlmutter, M.D., said on a recent episode of the mbg podcast, “100 percent of humans have a sweet tooth. It’s an ancestral trait that allowed humans to survive. Our sweet tooth is a legacy, and now it’s catered to 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, which leads to obesity.” The problem? “When we’re catering to this notion of stimulating the reward part of the brain with sugar, we strengthen that pathway to those reward areas of the brain that are involved with a neurotransmitter called dopamine, and it tends to distance us from connecting to the parts of our brain that aren’t involved in rewarding us moment to moment but are involved in our ability to be empathetic, to make long-term plans, to understand the long-term consequences of our day-to-day choices. We live in a society where we’re catering to the reward system of our brain moment to moment.” Conversely, when we strengthen the parts of our brain that are involved in being empathetic (something reading fiction has been shown to do), we weaken the neural pathways to the reward areas of our brain that make us crave sugar.”
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