Sugar – it’s in everything we eat and drink. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans attribute 16% of their daily calorie intake in added sugars. In moderate amounts, sugar is essential to the body. It is also a caloric substance, so when it is consumed in excess, it can promote negative effects on the body. But why is sugar addictive?
Why We Love Sugar
When we eat, a message is sent to our brain to activate our rewards system, made up of a series of electrical and chemical networks that interconnect across various regions of the brain. When this happens, dopamine is released. These dopamine receptors react to satisfy the excessive reward signals overriding your self-control mechanisms, similar to someone dependent on drugs, nicotine, and alcohol. This is how the addiction starts and answers the question, “why is sugar addictive?” Like drugs and alcohol, sugar causes a similar reaction in the brain. As humans, we have evolved to eat in moderation and balance our food intake with vitamins and minerals, but sugar finds its way in, usually disguised in canned vegetables, fruits, and processed foods.
Too Much of a Good Thing is Bad
Too much sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other life-shortening conditions. Impossible to avoid, sugar is in every aspect of the day from what you drink to what you eat. As a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism, Dr. Robert Lustig, the Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, says the body can safely consume the minimum of six teaspoons of added sugar per day. In addition, Dr. Lustig points out it’s important to distinguish between natural food-based sugar and added sugar. He also stated, we “abdicated rational nutrition when we went to processed foods.” He went on to say the low-fat craze of processed foods did more harm than good because when food companies removed the fat they added sugar. As Americans, we consume three times the safe amount sugar daily which ends up metabolizing into body fat.
What We Can Do
Simply reduce your intake of sugar, but make it a priority. It is a proven fact that sugar increases insulin levels which leads to other issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and premature aging. It’s never too late to kick your sugar habit. Remember sugar is not the answer to relieve stress or depression, it only fuels it. Next time at the grocery store, make conscious buying decisions and take time to read labels. At all costs, avoid high fructose corn syrup, now considered to be a deadly substance because of the amount of sugar that it contains and the health risks it presents.
We understand, the sugar habit is a hard one to kick! Start with a well-balanced diet. To lessen the impact of sugar, eat foods rich in fiber which helps slow down sugar absorption. Also, crucial to a balanced diet are foods generous in omega-3 fats that can lessen the ramifications of too much sugar. In addition to your diet, take a look at how you manage stress. Sweets should never be the answer to stress, but instead turn to something else like exercise, meditation, or even aroma therapy.
We hope you answered your questions about why is sugar addictive. Do you have more questions about your sugar intake or insulin levels? Let’s continue the conversation at our Coaches Corner Workshop on the topic of Sugar Addiction. Register here! Or, attend one of our Ideal Protein Introductory Workshops to find out about the Ideal Protein Protocol and how you can reduce your sugar levels.