We’ve often seen people avoid junk food but have an addiction to sugar or sugary foods. Nicotine, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are refined added sugars that become an addiction.
The want for sweet foods is the most craved foods, which signifies that the reward and cravings from added sugars can be compared to drugs or other forms of addictive substances. This may be since sugar produces drugs like psychoactive effects.
Although there is no physiological requirement to have even a single gram of added sugar, the sweet sensations give us the most sensory pleasures along with empty calories. Furthermore, it is difficult to answer why humans perceive sweetness differently? It is assumed that it is likely rooted in both the sweet taste perception and other related factors.
How added sugars mimic addictive drug abuse?
- Behaves like a drug or chemical compound due to its white crystalline form, which gets easily absorbed leading to harmful metabolic effects.
- It's habit-forming just like alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, tea, coffee and chocolate as it triggers the brain.
- It induces reward and cravings comparable to addictive drugs.
- Alters mood, gives a feeling of pleasure, leading to the seeking for sugar.
- It produces drugs like psychoactive effects as it sensitises the brain dopamine system.
- It provides comfort and is eaten for comfort eating at times of stress and distress.
- Strong sugar cravings signify it produces dependence eg bingeing
How is sugar addictive in humans?
Addiction is simply a psychological dependence and certain characteristics help diagnose an addiction such as cravings, tolerance or withdrawal efforts, also known as addiction triad. For a certain period, a certain dose of sugar needs to be consumed whereby neurochemical changes occur in the brain. This period varies from person to person based on genetic differences.
Is there any solution to control your sugar cravings?
It has been reviewed that chromium picolinate and L-glutamine may curb sugar cravings. Also, gradually decreasing sugar intake helps break the habit, without facing any sudden withdrawal symptoms.
Thus, the theory of sugar addiction which suggests that sugar elicits neurobiological changes similar to seen in drug addiction. Given the lack of evidence supporting the various suggestions which revolve around sugar, addiction does not lead to any conclusive facts. Also, sugar consumption should be avoided and it is advisable to break the habit if you’re addicted to it.