The Truth about Sugar Addiction and What Happens When You Quit

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You probably know someone who is a sugar addict. Maybe you are one. If so, then you already know how very real this addiction can be. Some people laugh and say that it’s not like its cocaine or anything, but the truth is, sugar addiction is very much like addiction to a hard drug.

In science, food is a natural reward. This makes sense when you consider our evolution. In order to survive and stand as a species, people need things such as having sex, nurturing each other, and eating, which should not only be available, but also pleasurable if these kinds of behaviors are to be repeated.

Now enter mesolimbic pathways. This is the brain’s system that translates these rewards for us. In cases when we do different things which satisfy as well as give us pleasure, certain neurons via neurotransmitter dopamine tell the brain in our prefrontal cortex to make a decision such as getting a helping of particular food or having sex again with the same person. These hormones also tell our brain “This was really good. Let’s remember this next time around.”

Of course, different foods have different rewarding impact on the same people, which is why some people prefer sweet over sour. This is because the mesolimbic pathway approves and reinforces the thought that sweet food is good because sweet is usually a good source of carbs. For example, when picking berries, sour implies ‘not ripe’ and bitter generally means ‘poison.’

Unfortunately, today’s diets seem to have taken on a virtual life of their own. Ten years ago, the average American consumed 22 teaspoons of sugar (we are referring to added sugar, not natural sugar such as what is found in fruit) each day, which is about an extra 350 calories. The average American now consumes more than 34 teaspoons of sugar each day.

Many people rely on convenience foods more than ever before due to our hectic schedules. This makes it almost impossible to consume foods that contain no added sugars. Since sugar is hidden in almost everything from ketchup to soup, some of us have become sugar addicts even if we never touch a candy bar and we are completely unaware of it.

Illegal, addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin hijack your brains reward pathway and make users dependent on them. Sugar is very much the same and increasing neuro-chemical and behavior evidence proves it.

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