In our everyday life in our diets we include sugary foods. Sugar is a source of sweetness that everyone will always want to get. Under normal circumstances, we take sugar in the form of food additive but some people will sometimes take it directly due to its sweetness satisfaction.
What is dopamine?
This is one of the principal neurotransmitters which are involved in the substance dependence. It is one of the hormones which play a very important role in the human brain and body. In the brain, this hormone works as a communication network to send signals to the other cells nerves. These hormones dominate the roles of the brain reward system which is responsible for behaviors. Most of the rewarding activities will increase the amount of the dopamine released in the brain and also some of the addictive drugs are known to also increase the dopamine neural activity.
Researches have been done to find out whether sugar addiction is a reality of fiction. The recent researches have shown that sugar is a “new tobacco”, worse than many addictive drugs we know and a secrete killer! It is argued according to the research done by Dr. Mark Hyman et al, that sugar is over eight times more addictive than cocaine.
Sugar, unlike many other addictive drugs which are illegal in many countries, is a legal food substance all over the world. This makes sugar readily available and it is also cheap to acquire. The nature of its sweetness cannot also be underrated as this is what actually makes a sugar a highly rewarding substance in the human brain.
Among the known foodstuffs which have capability to stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain, sugar is one of them. This center of pleasure which sugar stimulates is known as dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Research has shown that sugar acts on human brain in the same way as cocaine.
Before we conclude that a substance is addictive, we have to look at whether it poses the attributes of an addictive substance. Sugar has the following attributes which qualify it to be an addictive substance:-
- Despite its negative effects or the desire to stop taking sugar, the person compulsively continues to eat it.
- Just like the other addictive drugs such as alcohol and cocaine, sugar impacts the neurotransmitter in the brain.
- When used continuously, tolerance occurs and hence the person must take more sugar to achieve the same experience.
- Over time, sugar is required for the person’s body to function normally.
- When someone stops taking the sugar, withdrawal symptoms are witnessed.
Just like with any other dopamine producing substance, when sugar is taken it enters the brain system and activates the neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure. High amounts of dopamine are released to the system and hence the rewarding effects occur. This rewarding occurs in a form of pleasure that the person who is taking the sugar feels. With time, the number of dopamine which are released when the sugar is taken reduces and this results to the condition known as resistance. This eventually means in order to produce the pleasurable feeling, you have to consume more and more of sugar than that you used to consume before. This launches a viscous cycle of increased consumption of sugar leading to further desensitization and end up with an insatiable appetite for sugar.
Does sugar addiction have any negative effect to one’s health?
The fact that sugar is a common food substance acceptable all over the world makes it a common stuff in every kitchen. Under normal circumstances, a person will have a control over when it is necessary to take sugar in whichever form. This will though not be the case when the person becomes addicted with sugar. A sugar addict will unhealthily consume a lot of sugar which poses a lot of dangers to one’s health. Let’s look at some of the dangers that sugar addiction can cause to the addict.
- Sugar addiction may cause diabetes
Diabetes is a complex disease attributed with high glucose level in the blood. It is also called high blood sugar. When a person becomes a sugar addict, the chances of high blood glucose becomes high and hence the chances of becoming diabetic.
- Sugar addiction can cause obesity
The understanding of the relationship between sugar and obesity may look hidden unlike its direct relationship with diabetes. The main reason behind obesity is overeating. So, does it mean sugar addicts eat more than normal people? Let’s find out by asking another related question, “How do we know that we have eaten enough food and hence stop eating?”
The reason why we will always know when we have had enough of food is that our brains have a hormone known as Leptin. This hormone sends a signal when one has had enough of a food and hence the person stops eating. This hormone is naturally produces in the fat cells and it functions well under normal healthy dieting. However, this hormone is easily interrupted by things such as ingesting too much artificial sweeteners, high levels of insulin and not forgetting excess sugar. When a sugar addict consumes excess sugar, this disrupts the hormone and hence it fails to function.
When Leptin hormones fail, the hunger homes begin to run rampantly and unopposed. This makes the addict feel hungry and hence want to eat every now and then. Every time such a person eats, there will be obviously overeating since there are no regulatory signals in the brain and this is why sugar addiction is highly associated with obesity.