Hannah also discusses other Not So Sweet Truths
- Why you should avoid “Zero-Sugar” or “Low-Cal” Foods that contain artificial or natural sweeteners.
- Tricking our body into thinking sugar is coming causes insulin resistance.
- The impacts of sugar addiction including sleep and chronic disease.
- Why you shouldn’t go “cold turkey”
- Healthy snack recommendations.
What is already known?
► Substances of abuse are acknowledged throughout the medical community to have the potential to be addictive.
► Sugar consumption has increased in parallel with its introduction in the food supply.
► Sugar may drive increased food consumption, obesity, and diabetes.
What are the findings?
► Animal studies have confirmed that the reward for sugar can surpass that of cocaine.
► In animal studies, sugar produces more symptoms than is required to be considered an addictive substance.
► In animal studies there is an overlap between the consumption of added sugars and drug-like effects (eg, bingeing, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitisation, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, and opioid effects).
► Sugar addiction may be a dependence on the natural endogenous opioids that get released on sugar intake.
► In both animals and humans there are substantial parallels and overlap between drugs of abuse and sugar, from the standpoint of brain neurochemistry as well as behaviour.
Refined added sugars are habit-forming
It has been suggested that refined added sugars are habit-forming just like cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
In fact, chronic smokers suppress their cigarette cravings better than their food cravings. Some individuals report increased sweet cravings after giving up cigarettes, likely accounting for the typical weight gain associated with quitting smoking.
One study in cocaine-addicted individuals noted that their liking and wanting for food was even greater than that for cocaine.
As sweet foods are the most craved foods, this suggests that the reward and cravings from added sugars might be comparable to those of addictive substances.
This is backed up by a further study that developed the ProWS, the first measurement tool to operationalise withdrawal symptoms that may occur during attempts to cut down on highly processed foods. The measure exhibited excellent internal consistency, construct validity with the time course of drug withdrawal syndromes, and convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity with relevant eating-related measures.
Importantly, the ProWS facilitates future research on the experience of highly processed food withdrawal and its underlying biological mechanisms. If cutting down on highly processed foods may trigger withdrawal symptoms, then this may not only contribute to difficulties adhering to dietary interventions but may also provide support for the addictive potential of highly processed foods and the food addiction framework.
Published by group.bmj.com; Sugar addiction: is it real? A narrative review; James J DiNicolantonio, James H O’Keefe, William L Wilson
Published by www.elsevier.com/locate/appet; Development of the Highly Processed Food Withdrawal Scale; Erica M. Schulte, Julia K. Smeal, Jessi Lewis, Ashley N. Gearhard
How Optimal Health Can Help
If you struggle with sugar addiction and would like some support then we recommend starting with an Initial Health Consultation for new patients. We connect online, listen clearly to your health concerns and priorities, ensure our philosophy meets your needs, and recommend the starting point for an Optimal Health Treatment Pathway ©