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Sugar Addiction

Recently, I've been researching sugar addiction because no matter what I do, I can't seem to control myself when it comes to eating sweet foods, especially chocolate. I always feel that I need to eat something sweet right after a meal. People who want to lose weight or control their diets to gain muscle or tone should be very careful of their sugar intake. Therefore, I'm attempting to cut back on sugary foods. In my previous post, The Essence of Water, I mentioned how I was successful in giving up soda but still have trouble controlling myself when it comes to eating sweet foods.

Sugar addiction is a lack of controlling intake of foods and beverages containing sugar. Although it’s not scientifically proven that sugar can actually be addictive as with drug or alcohol addictions, nutritionists and doctors believe that it is, in fact, real. The most prominent researcher in this field, Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., concluded that over-consumption of sugar can affect both your weight and your state of mind. Research continues to be done and sugar has been found to contribute in tooth decay, gum disease, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and some auto-immune diseases (Source: howtothinkthin.com).

In our society, it seems like sweet substances are everywhere. In fact, the food and beverage industry, specifically in companies that make confectionery items and sugary drinks do very, very well. For example, PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) distributes to 200 countries and garners $43.3 billion in revenue while Mars, Inc., a privately held company, reaches $30 billion in annual sales. This goes to show that sugary drinks and confectionery items like Milky Way, M&M’s, Twix, Skittles and Snickers corner a large part of the food and beverages market. However, Pepsi declares their commitment to battling obesity, with Chairman and CEO, Indra Nooyi contending, “To suggest PepsiCo and other food companies should not have a voice in the discussion of how to address global obesity seems counterproductive” (Source: World.edu). I personally believe that sugary drinks and sweet foods can be eaten in moderation, however, should not take a large part of an individual’s diet.

Sugar has behavioral effects that are similar to the neurochemical changes
in the brain that also occur with addictive drugs like heroin.

Why exactly is sugar considered addictive? Sugar acts a lot like heroin when it hits the brain. A study titled “Sugar and Fat Bingeing Have Notable Differences in Addictive-Like Behavior” by Nicola M. Avena et al., claims that sugar affects brain chemistry and might be the cause of addictive behavior. Sugar and the taste of sweet activate beta endorphin receptors in the brain. These same receptor sites are also activated by heroin and morphine that activate the opioid system to produce a pleasurable response that researchers believe helps fuel a longing for more drugs and is key to the addiction process.

Do you believe sugar is addictive? Please leave comments below or email me here. In the coming weeks, I’ll follow-up with posts regarding caffeinated beverages and soda consumption. Thanks for reading!


Check out more of Priya’s posts via her blog, Gym Rat!

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