Do you have a tough time controlling your sweet tooth?
According to major health organizations and thousands of evidence based studies, excess sugar intake:
- Depresses the immune system
- Wreaks havoc on your hormones (NOT cool at anytime but especially during mid-life)
- Creates a roller coaster with your blood sugar (messes with your hormone insulin)
- Affects numerous neurotransmitters in our brains
- Causes internal inflammation all over the body
As a result, sugar has now been associated with a host of chronic diseases, from osteoporosis, arthritis, and heart disease to depression, leg cramps, depressed immunity, and prediabetes.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our brains become addicted to the natural opioids triggered by sugar consumption. Similar to classic drugs (cocaine, alcohol and nicotine), a diet loaded with sugar can cause excessive reward signals in the brain which challenges your self-control and leads to a sugar addiction.
Studies have shown that when rats (who metabolize sugar similar to us) are given the choice between water sweetened with sucrose (sugar) and intravenous cocaine, almost all of the rats chose the sugar water. When the water was sweetened with saccharin, the results were similar … the rats preferred the saccharin water (think artificial sweeteners). When the rats were offered larger doses of cocaine, it did not matter; they STILL wanted the saccharin or sugar water.
Even more stunning, rats that were addicted to cocaine switched to sweetened water when given the choice. In other words, intense sweetness was more rewarding to the brain than cocaine. WOW.
So keep this in mind; sugar works the addiction and reward pathways in the brain in much the same way as many illegal drugs. The reality is that sugar is basically a socially acceptable, legal, recreational drug . . . with far reaching health consequences.
“But I don’t eat that much sugar,” you might be saying to yourself. Most people we encounter have absolutely no idea how much sugar they actually consume. That’s because it’s hidden in so many seemingly healthy foods, such as granola bars, yogurts, salad dressings, coffee drinks, condiments, and cereals. And the fact is that anything more than 6 teaspoons (for women) and 9 teaspoons (for men) puts you at risk for over consumption. That’s the amount found in less than one soda, a large glass of lemonade, or many low fat yogurts.
Check out our YouTube video where we share tips on how to stop a sugar craving, and get our download too with recipes that will satisfy a sweet tooth without sabotaging your health.
Great article! Sad but so true about our brain and sugar addiction. The more we know and realize that it is not about will power but rather our actual biology and our brains… the easier it is to take steps to curb the addiction.
Thanks for all the great information!