(NaturalHealth365) If you have a sweet tooth and would like to reduce your intake or stop eating sugar altogether, you should be aware that sugar addiction is very real. In fact, addiction to sugar triggers some of the same addictive responses and withdrawal symptoms as drug addiction.
However, what gets tricky with sugar is that it is a food, not an illicit substance. It is perfectly legal to buy sweets from the store and consume them. However, the same can be said for alcohol; that doesn’t mean having it in excess is healthy for you.
The anatomy of a sugar addiction
Eating sugar triggers the mesolimbic pathway and reward center. In this process, any pleasurable activity can cause specific neurons to trigger the production of dopamine, one of the body’s feel-good chemicals. This in turn signals the nucleus accumbens region.
The nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex handle decision-making and motor movement related to pleasure. This mechanism can cause a sugar-addicted person to reach for more candy or another slice of cake. Hormones are activated that create cellular memory of the experience, and eating sweets (or any other pleasurable experience) is more likely to be craved in the future.
Why it’s harder to stop eating sugar than other foods
While this mechanism can be triggered while eating any food we enjoy, it is stronger for foods like sweets and carbohydrates in most people. This is because the brain’s pleasure center and mesolimbic pathway have evolved to reward eating foods that bring us energy. Sugar and carbohydrates are an efficient source of energy in small amounts; however, in excess, they can elevate blood glucose to dangerous levels.
A study by The Obesity Society has determined that since 1977, sugar consumption by Americans has risen by at least 30 percent. Like drugs, sugar causes a spike in dopamine in the brain. Consuming sugar regularly eventually changes gene expression and alters dopamine receptors. Over time, more sugar is needed for the same pleasurable response – fueling the sugar addiction like a drug addiction.
Sugar withdrawal symptoms similar to substance abuse withdrawal
Sugar addiction is very real, and cravings can hijack the brain’s reward pathway, causing dependence. When trying to stop eating sugar cold turkey, sugar withdrawal symptoms similar to drug detox can result.
Sugar withdrawal symptoms often include emotional responses like anxiety, depression, anger, irritability and mood swings. Physical symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, flu-like symptoms and trembling. Other changes such as an increase in cravings, appetite fluctuations, insomnia or other sleep pattern changes can also result.
The best approach to overcoming a sugar addiction is to stop eating sugar gradually. Replace sugary foods with healthier options like moderate amounts of fruit and healthy carbohydrates. Doing so can assist with avoiding the worst of sugar withdrawal symptoms while embracing a new, healthier lifestyle.
Food & Nutrition
Natural Health 365
Natural Health 365 is a premium source of trending and popular health-related news, science, testimony & research articles on the most up to date and relevant natural health information. The Food & Nutrition articles found herein are meant to inform and advise our site visitors on eating healthy, nutritious foods and safely using supplements and vitamins to achieve optimal health.
Join thousands of daily visitors staying informed and involved on Natural Health 365! We seek out scientific solutions with proven results and it is our mission to keep you informed! Articles range in topic from the cancer fighting qualities of Olive Oil, to the remarkably high concentration of anti-oxidants found in blueberries, to how to make your own almond milk, to a nutritional comparison of organic vs conventional produce, to an analysis of the health benefits of tree nuts. You can find all of the Food News Articles here
Read Some of Our Most Popular Articles
Artichokes, Olive Oil, Almond Milk, Blueberries
More Food & Nutrition Articles
Fresh Organic Produce Fights Cancer, Susan G. Komen on Organic Foods, Hemp Seeds for Inflammation, Pau D’Arco For Improved Immunity
In addition to exploring health benefits of certain foods, vitamins and supplements, we also aim to connect healthy eating and balanced consumption of dietary supplements to long-lasting health and adding healthy, happy years to your life. For example, did you know that eating Granny Smith Apples on a regular basis can reduce your chance of building up unhealthy gut yeast? Or that ingesting ground hemp seeds can significantly reduce inflammation throughout the body? Perhaps you didn’t know that Fresh Organic Produce has been found to have higher concentrations of key, cancer-fighting anti-oxidants and vitamins than conventional produce? You can find all of that information and more right here on Natural Health 365.
We’d love to know what you’re thinking! Please join the conversation on Facebook, post comments here on the website and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.
Please use and share the articles you find here with your friends, family and peers.