Sugar is addictive and affect our brains like a drug. And just like drugs, the longer we eat sugar, the more we have to eat to get the same level of pleasure.
A study by Australian scientists found that sugar controls the brain's pleasure centres in a way similar to drugs like cocaine and morphine. Cutting out sugar also creates powerful withdrawal symptoms. “Like other drugs of abuse, withdrawal from chronic sucrose exposure can result in an imbalance in dopamine levels, and be as difficult as going ‘cold turkey’,” Queensland University of Technology (QUT) PhD researcher, Masroor Shariff said.
Results Challenge Previous Beliefs
The results of the study fly in the face of years of denial that sugar is addictive though they are no surprise to a growing number of increasingly vocal online communities, like I Quit Sugar's Sarah Wilson who has documented her battle with sugar addiction and how she beat it.
“Excess sugar consumption has been proven to contribute directly to weight gain. It has also been shown to repeatedly elevate dopamine levels which control the brain's reward and pleasure centres in a way that is similar to many drugs of abuse including tobacco, cocaine and morphine," said QUT Neuroscientist, Prof Selena Bartlett. “After long-term consumption, this leads to a reduction in dopamine levels [which] leads to higher consumption of sugar to get the same level of reward.
“We have also found that high sugar consumption and binge eating into adulthood may also [have] neurological and psychiatric consequences affecting mood and motivation." In other words, eating sugar probably contributes to feelings of depression and lethargy.
Sugar is Killing Us
The study published in international research journal PLOS ONE, acknowledged sugar as one of the main causes of the worldwide obesity pandemic which has produced alarming levels of diabetes 2, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.
Its findings support a growing animosity toward sugar within the scientific and nutrition communities.
QUT NEWS: Treating Sugar Addiction Like Drug Abuse