Sugar Meets All the Criteria for Addiction

Through no fault of their own, millions of people have developed a physical dependency on sugar. It’s nearly identical to drug addiction. Here is a list of the criteria for substance dependency:

  • regular use
  • bingeing
  • tolerance
  • cravings
  • withdrawal

There’s a reason people light up when considering what tasty dessert they’re going to order. It’s why their faces transform into an oh-so-satisfied expression as they hit the cookie dough core in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Most know eating sugar is not suitable for health. In short, Americans love sugar because it provides a certain kind of euphoria. It makes us happy, even if just for a moment and even if we’re not consciously aware of it.

Like any other addictive substance, a high sugar intake person will build up a tolerance. Tolerance means needing more and more to feel the same good feeling. Consuming sugar causes the brain to release a surge of dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with euphoric feelings.

According to a Princeton University study, dopamine is released into the brain’s nucleus accumbens in rats who drank a sugar solution. This chemical is what triggers addiction. Professor Hobel went on to discover as little as one soft drink can result in sugar bingeing.

  • Even more disturbing is the fact triggering dopamine can increase the likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol.

According to one government study, sugar intake can lead to behavioral changes similar to substance abuse. The study concludes “evidence in rats, intermittent access to sugar and food is, in fact, capable of producing a dependency.”

Consider the World Health Organization suggests that adults on the standard 2,000 calories diet should only take about 25 grams of sugar per day. A single can of soda contains anywhere from 39 to 45 grams.

“I don’t drink sodas” is likely the first thought many healthy-minded people might have. That’s good, but even a single, solitary cup of Dannon, low-fat, vanilla yogurt has a whopping 34 grams of sugar.

Americans consume an average of seventy-seven grams of sugar per day, more than three times the recommended amount. This adds up to nearly 60 pounds of added sugar annually, reports the American Heart Association.

According to Sugar Science, seventy-four percent of packaged foods contain hidden sugars, an initiative at the University of California, San Francisco.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, it can take a minimum of 10 days to detox off sugar. Detox means removing toxins from the body.

Sugar quiz

  • Do you regularly crave something sweet to eat?
  • Does going without sugary foods cause obsessing them?
  • Have you ever built up a tolerance, needing more of the sugary foods to enjoy them?
  • Does stopping eating sugar for an extended period ever result in physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms?
  • Have you binged on sugar, consuming far more of some sweet food than you intended?
  • Can you have just one cookie, one piece of candy (or chocolate), or one scoop of ice cream without wanting to eat more?
  • Do you sometimes use something sweet to reward or soothe yourself?
  • After consuming sugar, do you sometimes feel guilty?
  • Even though you know the consequences, do you go ahead and eat sugar anyway?
  • Though you’re not hungry, do you always eat sugar?
  • Have you ever hidden sugar foods from others?
  • Do you go out of your way to get sugar food?

Starbucks fancy drinks contain loads of sugar. According to CBS News;

  • White chocolate mocha & whipped cream, venti – 73.8 grams (18 teaspoons)
  • Chai tea latte, venti – 53 grams (13 teaspoons)
  • Caramel macchiato, venti – 42.1 grams (11 teaspoons)

If we take a closer look at motivation, it may be we’re getting a sugar fix to avoid a mental and physical crash because the body has become physically dependent.

Sugar withdrawal comes with some genuine symptoms that can include:

  • Cravings for not just something sweet
  • Fatigue or sluggishness
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings, depression, or anxiety

Many people scoff at the idea of sugar addiction because there are no stories about destitute sugar addicts who once had a great life and then lost it all due to the addiction. It’s not that simple because the health-related consequences of too much sugar are, in fact, potentially deadly.

One of the critical struggles for those in recovery is battling withdrawal symptoms. It can be uncomfortable while the body and brain chemistry returns to normal.

It’s essential to be patient with yourself and have a plan for cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Relapse is common, but it does not mean failure.

Making an overall healthier choice, like developing and sticking to a regular exercise regimen, will improve recovery.

A diet rich in lean proteins, fish, vegetables, and fruits are also vital to balancing dopamine.

It may take a little time to kick a sugar habit, but many people find that their overall mood and mental wellbeing, and energy levels improve.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 90 to 95 percent of the 34 million Americans with diabetes have type 2, a chronic illness related to obesity. Research has shown a connection between sugar and heart disease.

Additionally, cases of sugar-related liver disease are growing, and physicians are concerned. Much like with alcohol, the liver can only process so much sugar, especially fructose.

“The fastest-rising cause of liver transplantation in Americans is “Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease,” Dr. Laura Schmidt, a professor at UCSF School of Medicine, said in an interview for Sugar Science.

There is also evidence that some companies are shading the truth about sugar-related health issues.

report in the journal Annals of Medicine reviewed studies looking at the link between sugary drinks and diabetes and obesity. It found 26 studies funded by the beverage industry that found no connection between sugary drinks and diseases. Thirty-three reviews found a link.

This government study concluded a direct link between sugar and an elevated risk of cancer, especially in women.

Sugar is the number one enemy to health