Sugar Addiction: What Happens when a Person Consumes Excessive Sugar & Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings?

Is Sugar Addiction Similar to Drug Addiction?

Very few people know that the addiction of sugar is no less than the addiction to harmful drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. Though the consequences of relapse from sugar addiction might not be that severe, but the same reserve center of the brain is triggered in both the cases of addiction, i.e. the release of chemical dopamine.

The Role of Dopamine in Sugar Addiction

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that acts as a main and key part of any “reward pathway” which is associated with any type of behavior including sugar addiction. When a person consumes sugar, it leads to excess release of the chemical dopamine which ignites the desire for more pleasure. It alters the regulation of food intake in an individual and the person loses his/her ability to control consumption. This leads to uncontrolled consumption of sugar items or junk food items. As the person repeats his or her behavior or enhances the sugar intake, the brain adjusts and releases less dopamine. So now, the only way out or to regain that high pleasure again is to repeat that behavior or intake by increasing the amount and frequency of the addictive substance. This is also known as a substance abuse.

Undoubtedly, it is a crystal clear fact now that when a person consumes too much of sugar or junk food item, there is a certain malfunction in the brain that affects the controlling ability of an individual to control his or her food/sugar intake. The system in the brain that controls the eating habits malfunctions and this is the reason why people gain excess weight and layers of fat all across the body and be a victim to obesity.

Sugar Addiction: What Happens when a Person Consumes Excessive Sugar?

Sugar Addiction: What Happens when a Person Consumes Excessive Sugar?

The overstimulation of the “reward center” of brain causes the addiction of sugar. Sugar causes the body to gain weight by several means. Let us see what happens in the brain when one eats sugar or foods containing high amount of sugar.

When a person eats high amount of sugar, massive amount of chemical known as dopamine is released in the area of the brain which is known as Nucleus Accumbens. When an individual eats food in large amounts, the dopamine receptors start to regulate. This means there are very few receptors of dopamine here. The next times one eats food, the effect of these food items gets blunted. So sugars and other types of junk foods, owing to their powerful and intense effects on the “reward centers” of the brain now function similarly as they function on the intake of drugs like cocaine and nicotine. So this is how the sugar items manipulate the chemistry of the brain which ignites the craving in an individual for more sugar or food.

Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings

Since high amount of sugar in foods, modifies and leads to malfunction of the mechanism of the brain which in turn leads to loss of ability to control the amount of food substances one consumes; this leads to excess weight gain or obesity. So here we discuss some tips to put an end to such type of sugar cravings:

  1. Avoiding Processed Foods to Prevent Sugar Cravings

    You will be surprised to know that sugar and other processed food items are very addictive to the brain. In a study conducted in 2013, researchers from Connecticut College confirmed that Oreos can be very addictive just like cocaine. So this becomes an established fact that the addiction caused by processed foods and sugary items are almost as dangerous as addiction caused by cocaine and marijuana. Eating sugar artificially stimulates region of the brain called as nucleus accumbens, which leads to production of excess dopamine as discussed above. So, in order to curb your sugar cravings and prevent sugar addiction, one should completely avoid eating complex processed food items which contain high amount of sugar.

  2. Boosting the Serotonin for Preventing Sugar Cravings

    Serotonin or the happiness hormone in the body can easily be raised through proper diet, exercise and right sleeping schedule. When the body has plenty of serotonin, the brain is less likely to crave for sugar food items; hence less chances of becoming a sugar addict.

  3. Satisfy your Sweet Tooth Naturally to Curb Sugar Cravings

    If you craving for sugar is overpowering your brain and is also hindering your work, then in such cases Stevia is the perfect and best choice for you. Stevia is a natural sweetener and doesn’t raise the blood sugar levels in the body and is also 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia has zero calories, and it doesn`t harm the body. For baking, Lakanto, a natural sweetener, is the best choice. It’s an all natural sweetener with zero calories, zero glycemic index and has zero addictives element.

  4. Keep your Sugar Levels Stable to Control Sugar Cravings

    Eat small, but several Body Ecology meals all throughout the day instead of consuming three large meals in a day. Consuming smaller meals 4 to 5 times a day prevents dips in blood sugar level. Make sure that the evening meal you take is rich in fiber. You can take food items like quinoa, millet, buckwheat etc. When you eat these types of food items, the brain releases more serotonin (happy hormone). The sleep also improves along with stabilization of the blood sugar level. Also note that a fermented vegan protein food item helps in stabilizing the blood sugar level in the body. So eating small meals throughout the day not only stabilizes the blood sugar, but also curbs sugar cravings and prevents sugar addiction.

  5. Drink Plenty of Water to Control Sugar Cravings

    At times, you may misconceive that your body is craving for sugar, but in fact it is craving for water. When the body is in a state of dehydration, one is often confused whether one requires water or sugar or food. So always keep your body hydrated by drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water every day. Start your day with 1 glass of water in the morning and same at night. Intake of water early in the morning nourishes all the organs of the body and regulates their proper functioning. Keeping your body hydrated prevents sugar addiction and controls sugar cravings.

  6. Relish Fermented Food and Drinks to Curb Sugar Cravings

    Fermented food items and drinks are good replacement for sugar items since they are the best alternatives to curb cravings of sugar food items. Coconut drinks are one of the most popular and common drinks today and you can yourself make your own coconut kefir drink at home. This will help in controlling the sugar cravings.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 5, 2017

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