Given the stresses in today’s everyday life, a reward or treat throughout the day can boost our energy levels and soothe our nerves. However, when that boost is in the form of sugar, the energizing and mood-elevating effects are short-lived—while beneath the surface its addictive qualities and negative health effects are taking root.
A review performed by Princeton University, published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews shows that mice given intermittent access to food and sugar solutions exhibit a range of behavioral and brain changes similar to mice on voluntarily self-administered addictive drugs. Such characteristics suggest sugar may be as addictive as drugs.
A 2018 review article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry stated that neurochemical similarities have been observed between rats with drug abuse and sugar dependence. Like drug abuse, there is an increase in dopamine release every time the animals are exposed to sugar.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Its function is to create a reward mechanism in the brain and make you feel happy. Exercise and food can both promote dopamine secretion. Likewise, smoking and drug use can increase dopamine secretion, making users feel uplifted and satisfied.
A study published in 2023 in Translational Psychiatry, a sister journal of Nature, used single-cell whole-brain imaging methods to analyze nearly 400 brain structures. Mapping of c-Fos, a marker of brain neuronal activity, showed that exposure to both sugar and cocaine resulted in widespread activation of the distal neuronal networks and that repeated exposure to cocaine and sugar triggered the same synaptic reorganization signature.
Neuroendocrinologist: Sugar Is Addictive & Toxic
Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric neuroendocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) is committed to studying childhood obesity. He is author of the book “Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease,” in which he used a collection of scientific studies to prove that sugar can be addictive, toxic, and ubiquitous, and calls for a global reduction in sugar consumption.
While obesity is often thought to be a result of overeating and inadequate exercise, Dr. Lustig has a different opinion. He believes that the real cause of obesity is the increase in sugar consumption. UCSF report quoted Dr. Lustig as saying that over the past century, Americans’ fructose intake has increased from 15 grams (0.53 ounces) per day to 75 grams (2.65 ounces) per day or even more. Sugar both promotes fat storage and tricks the brain into thinking it’s hungry, creating a vicious cycle that leads to obesity.
Dr. Lustig points out that sugar is even more harmful to health than fat in that not only does sugar cause—like fat—increased levels of artery-clogging fats produced by the liver and deposited in the blood, but fructose also causes damage to the liver and structural proteins in the body. Further damage is caused by promoting excessive consumption of calories. Fructose, a simple sugar, is commonly used in soft drinks and many processed foods.
A 2021 study published in the Journal of Hepatology found that drinks using fructose and sucrose increased the liver’s ability to produce lipids, which when in excess in the body, can cause fat deposits in the body’s artery walls.
The research team conducted a double-blind, randomized trial on 94 healthy male volunteers. They were asked to drink beverages containing moderate amounts of fructose, sucrose (fructose-glucose disaccharide), or glucose (80 grams per day) included in sugary drinks as part of their daily diet, while the control group did not take any at all. For reference, about 80 grams of sugar is contained in 800 ml of common soft drinks.
After seven weeks of follow-up, the researchers found that the fundamental secretion rate of newly synthesized fatty acids in the liver of the volunteers who drank fructose- and sucrose-containing beverages was approximately doubled compared to that of the control group.
The Harm of Sugar To The Human Body
“The harmful effects of sugar are mainly due to the weight gain from added sugar in the foods we eat and sugar-sweetened beverages,” Dr. Michelle Hauser, an educator in nutrition and a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Harvard Health Publishing.
A study published in the journal Circulation modeled the disease burden related to sugar-sweetened beverages consumption at regional, national, and global levels in 2010. The model estimates that 184,000 people die each year around the world as a result of drinking sugary beverages—133,000 from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 from cancer.
How To Break The Sugar Habit?
Since sugar addiction is so harmful to our health, how to overcome it has become a topic of high concern. Dr. Hauser went on to offer advice on breaking the sugar habit:
- Stay away from sugary foods
Stocking the cupboards with candies, cookies, sugary drinks, and other high-sugar items only adds to temptation. Have more options such as fruit readily available.
- Add sugar to food yourself
When adding your own sweetener to foods and drinks, such as plain yogurt, plain oatmeal, and iced tea, you’ll most likely find you need much less than the amount the manufacturer would have added.
- Read product labels carefully
Become aware of excess amounts, and various types of sugars in foods, including low-fat products.
- Start your day with a nutritious breakfast
Foods such as oatmeal, eggs, and fruits, will help you feel satisfied and reduce your craving for sugar.
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Can A Dental Infection Cause A Massive Heart Attack?
For literally hundreds of years now, the idea that a dental infection could seed, initiate, and promote virtually all chronic degenerative diseases has been hotly debated in the medical and dental communities, often with much more passion and hyperbole than with science.
This “debate” continues today, and nothing encapsulates this focal infection link between the mouth and the body better than the root canal-treated tooth.
And while the root canal-treated tooth is certainly not the only significant source of dental infection and toxicity, it is easily the most devastating one—as you will soon see.
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READ MORE: What To Eat To Defend Your Heart
Read more on Sugar KNOWLEDGE: The Sugar & Cancer Connection: Why Sugar Is Called “The White Death”
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