The Truth About Sugar Addiction

listen to your body now eraoflightdotcomSugar is one of the most harmful and addictive substances that you can consume, as it’s associated with various metabolic diseases. Nowadays, it’s found in almost everything you eat. In fact, the average American consumes around 17.4 teaspoons of sugar per day — that’s more than 5 teaspoons higher than the average sugar intake recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. A 2015 article from The Washington Post states that the U.S. even ranks first in the countries that consume the highest amount of sugar.

According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, around 75% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets contain added sugar. This includes processed foods like sweet snacks, cereals, energy drinks, fruit juices and baked goods. It’s even present in infant food and baby formula, exposing children to numerous health issues at a very young age.

But avoiding sugar is not as simple as skipping sweet foods, as savory foods, like salad dressing and pizza, contain this ingredient as well. Sugar hides behind 61 different names in food labels, the most common of which include sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, glucose, maltose, lactose and fruit juice concentrate, among others.

What makes sugar so addicting?

When you eat sugary foods, the reward center of your brain, known as the nucleus accumbens, is stimulated through increased signals of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in your perception of pleasure.

Because eating sugar makes you feel good, you’re likely to eat it often. As you consume excessive amounts of sugar on a regular basis, your body’s dopamine signals become weaker and you develop tolerance, so you have to eat more sugar to get the same level of reward, eventually resulting in sugar addiction. This is why manufacturers use sugar to drive your behavior.

There have been many studies regarding the addictive potential of sugar. For instance, a 2018 review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine states that “sugar has been found to produce more symptoms than is required to be considered an addictive substance.”

It exhibits drug-like effects such as bingeing, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance and cross-dependence. Another study published in the journal Neuroscience states that intermittent bingeing on sucrose and abusing drugs can both increase extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.

60 ways sugar can ruin your health

Excessive sugar consumption is associated with chronic metabolic problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.13 Aside from these, there have been numerous studies spanning decades that demonstrate the other ways in which eating too much sugar can lead to detrimental effects to your health. I counted 60 of these health risks, divided into four categories:

Nutrient imbalance or deficiency

  1. Upsets the mineral relationships in your body
  2. Causes chromium deficiency
  3. Interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium
  4. Increases total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels
  5. Decreases good cholesterol levels
  6. Lowers vitamin E levels

Behavioral changes

  1. Leads to addiction and intoxication, similar to alcohol
  2. Increases hyperactivity and depressive symptoms
  3. Causes difficulty in concentrating and drowsiness
  4. Reduces learning capacity and can cause learning disorders
  5. Increases the risk for antisocial behavior
  6. Decreases emotional stability
  7. Increases the risk for alcoholism

Increased risk of diseases

  1. Promotes cancer cell growth
  2. Increases fasting levels of glucose
  3. Increases blood pressure levels
  4. increases platelet adhesion, which could put you at risk of arterial thrombotic conditions
  5. Leads to formation of kidney stones and gallstones
  6. Promotes excessive food intake through rapid sugar absorption
  7. Increases the risk for obesity
  8. Decreases insulin sensitivity, leading to high insulin levels and eventually diabetes
  9. Causes reactive hypoglycemia
  10. Triggers dizziness and headaches, including migraines
  11. Makes you more prone to gastrointestinal tract problems
  12. Promotes chronic degenerative diseases
  13. Causes atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases
  14. Causes cataracts and nearsightedness
  15. May lead to autoimmune diseases like arthritis, asthma and multiple sclerosis
  16. Increases the risk for lung cancer
  17. Contributes to osteoporosis
  18. Promotes the progression of Parkinson’s disease
  19. Increases the risk of gout and Alzheimer’s disease
  20. Increases acidity of the saliva and causes tooth decay and periodontal diseases
  21. Promotes uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infection)
  22. Leads to toxemia in pregnancy
  23. Worsens symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  24. May lead to epileptic seizures

Bodily impairments

  1. Impairs metabolic processes in a normal healthy individual
  2. Suppresses the immune system, which increases risk of contracting infectious diseases
  3. Reduces tissue elasticity and function
  4. Leads to weaker eyesight
  5. Accelerate aging
  6. Increases advanced glycation end products wherein sugar molecules attach to proteins and end up damaging them
  7. Impairs DNA and collagen structure
  8. Alters collagen structure
  9. Worsens signs of skin aging
  10. Lowers the ability of your enzymes to function
  11. Promotes fat accumulation in the liver
  12. Increases the risk for kidney and pancreatic damage
  13. Contributes to salt and fluid retention
  14. Affects urinary electrolyte composition
  15. Impairs normal function of the adrenal glands
  16. Compromises lining of capillaries
  17. Weakens your tendons
  18. Can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which results in the inability to think clearly
  19. Causes hormonal imbalances
  20. Increases free radicals and oxidative stress
  21. Leads to substantial decrease in gestation, with a twofold increased risk for delivering a small-for-gestational-age infant
  22. Causes dehydration among newborns
  23. Affects carbon dioxide production when given to infants

 

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