Sugar and Addiction

Sugar and Addiction

Everything’s a controversy these days, but I believe it’s safe to say we can all agree that the “no-sugar” diet is a good idea. Right?

Well, if we’re going to make some bold blanket statements like that we need some evidence to either back it up or to refute it.

The biggest question here is: why is sugar bad? I mean, we all sort of intrinsically feel like it’s bad, but not enough to put the donut down. Not without some serious convincing. Turns out, there’s a good reason for that.

In your brain, there are these tiny things called dopamine receptors. Sounds fun, right? They remind me of those little sticks we used to play with as kids where you have to swing the ball into the cup, the Kendama. I researched for a good ten minutes to find that name, by the way.

Think of dopamine receptors like the Kendama, and dopamine like the little ball. Kind of.

You might be wondering why we are talking about dopamine when we’re supposed to be talking about sugar. Here’s the connection

Researchers have found that sugar can effect the dopamine receptors in the same ways that drugs like cocaine and heroine do. In fact, the withdrawal from sugar looks an awful lot like a withdrawal from drugs. Once you add a “drug” into your regular diet, be it cola or coke, your brain becomes dependent on it as a source of dopamine and slows down on it’s own production. As soon as you take that source away, your brain gets a little cranky and wants it back. However, it can’t produce so much on it’s own anymore because it’s been a little lazy lately not having to do the work.

So you reach for the nearest goodie.

To add to it, the same researchers discovered that an addiction to sugar creates an increase in the consumption of it. Once the brain gets used to a certain amount of intake, it needs more to create the same feeling it once had with only little amounts. This is a desensitization, or in other words, resistance.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with being particularly “bad”. We’ll cover the harmful effects of sugar in another post, but it was important to know the addictive properties of sugar before getting in to too much detail.

Sugar is a big deal. We’re going to talk a lot about it.


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