Perhaps the most important question to ask about sugar addiction is not if it exists but why there have been so few scientific studies of it. Remember the blissful days of ignorance before we knew cigarette smoking was addictive? Same thing applies to sugar: You can be sure the industry that manufactures and distributes it already knows it's addictive and does its best to keep that a secret from you.
The first cigarette tastes horrible, yet addicts end up smoking for 30-40 years. The first sugar over-indulgence may causes lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, painful bumps on the tongue or other unpleasant symptoms ~ and yet people think it's "natural" to eat sugary breakfasts, sugary snacks, dessert after lunch and dinner. It isn't natural ~ it's slow suicide. I've witnessed someone close to me commiting suicide by food; it's an avoidable tragedy.
Scientific data suggests that sugar addiction is very real:
Image via WikipediaSince the industry is not funding studies, there is little data to draw from. However, on his website Dr. Andrew Weill mentions a couple of examples that give us clues.
The first is research from Princeton University showing that lab rats acclimated to sugar display the cravings and relapses that signal addiction, as well as brain changes similar to those associated with addiction to narcotics or nicotine. These rats also exhibited anxiety characteristic of withdrawal when deprived of sugar.
In 2010, the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia released a study linking a child's unusually strong response to intense sweet taste with childhood depression and a family history of alcoholism. Sweet taste and alcohol activate many of the same reward circuits in the brain. These children, looking for relief from depression, preferred a taste twice as sweet as a cola, or 14 teaspoons of sugar per cup of water.
Health consequences of sugar addiction:
There is no question that abuse of sugar is a predictor of adult-onset diabetes and leads to metabolic syndrome (central obesity/enlarged waist circumference, raised triglyceride levels, lowered HDL levels, raised blood pressure, raised fasting plasma glucose). These are very serious health issues.
For most of us, ingesting sugar all day long, every day, becomes so habitual it's unconscious. But you can shift a habit, you can make choices, you can be conscious of your cravings and the level to which you depend on sugar to keep you happy or keep you going. Ignoring this information can have very serious consequences: not only increased risk for obesity, diabetes and heart attacks, but also for inflammatory diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sugar is the ultimate fast food:
It ends hunger almost immediately (though not for long), but it also causes hunger pangs to return when your blood sugar consequently crashes. The best way to kick sugar is to shop proactively ~ fill the house with healthy whole foods you enjoy ~ and avoid skipping meals or becoming too hungry. Healthy fats and proteins, along with the fiber in fresh vegetables (think chicken stir-fry) will keep you feeling satisfied.
Kick sugar by fighting depression, and feel less depressed by kicking sugar. Pouring sugar into your body is like pouring sugar in a car's gas tank: the machinery ceases to function. If you can give it up completely for a month, it will lose its power over you, and your cravings will go away. You'll feel better without it, your health will improve and you'll probably lose weight. If you are addicted, admit it to your doctor or health practitioner and ask for dietary guidance. Don't wait.
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