Is sugar addiction real?

If you have a sneaky suspicion that you may be addicted to sugar and carbohydrates, you are not alone. Recent studies are showing that sugar may very well addictive, and has the capacity to hijack your brain.

This video, from neuroscientist and addiction expert Dr Nicole Avena at TED, walks through what happens in the brain when eat a sugary ‘treat’:

As  Dr Avena explains, sugar overloads the brain’s reward system which can lead to strong cravings and a loss of control. In fact the cycle of sugar addiction follows that of drug addiction very closely. A study done on food addiction by Nora Volkow draws the following conclusion: “Food activates brain reward circuitry both through palatability (involves endogenous opioids and cannabinoids) and through increases in glucose and insulin concentrations (involves DA increases), whereas drugs activate this same circuitry via their pharmacological effects”. Through its consistently rewarding effect, sugar does behave a like a drug.

Sugar’s effects on the brain are why some policymakers and advocates want stricter regulations on the substance. Robert Lustig, a medical expert at the University of California, San Francisco, even argues that sugar should be treated like a drug when it comes to regulations and taxes. He has been quoted as saying: “There is not one biochemical reaction in your body, not one, that requires dietary fructose, not one that requires sugar. Dietary sugar is completely irrelevant to life.”

The World Health Organisation recently called on a reduction in sugar intake among adults and children to: “reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.”

If you feel that you may be addicted to sugar and carbs and need help why not consider joining The Beginner Banting Course or the 21 day HELP inpatient program which takes place at The Harmony Addictions Clinic in Cape Town.

If you would like more information on Sugar Addiction and a self-help program on how to stop you can buy my book Sugar Free here.

Leave a Reply