America’s Sugar Addiction: How bad is it, really? There are established scientific facts that prove sugar is extremely addictive. Sugar tends to act as a stimulant to particular brain centers just as cocaine or heroin. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates are used to release serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. Sugar also is a relaxant because it tends to produce endorphins which help in calming and relaxing us. These are the same feelings that are produced by many addictive drugs.
According to a piece in The New York Times by James DiNicolantonio and Sean Lucan, they have found that nearly 75 percent of all packaged food in the USA contains sugar. In addition, they found: Withdrawing from sugar can also lead to side effects that hard-core drugs hold such as increased cravings which require an actual detox process.
There have been countless studies on what causes this sugar addiction and many theories have been written. For example, adrenal fatigue, hormonal changes in women, bacterial growth, food allergies and candida. According, to Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD the spokeswoman for American Dietetic Association (ADA) own words, she says “Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth.”
Sugar alone is not necessarily bad for us in regulated quantities. It becomes an issue when we start craving for sweet things every day and cannot control the urges. This can be a challenge. It can be more than a little bit difficult to notice since most of the things that we consume on a daily basis have sugars added to them.
Eating too many of these empty calories has many detrimental health effects, the most obvious being major weight gain. Added sugar drives your insulin levels up, messes with your metabolism, and causes those calories to turn right into belly fat. And while losing weight is fabulous, that’s just the beginning of the health benefits of cutting back on processed sugars.
Benefits to Breaking Your Sugar Addition
• Lowers your blood pressure as well as your bad cholesterol.
• Decreases your heart attack risk.
• Keeps your brain sharp.
• Less Likely to develop Alzheimer’s, dementia and depression.
• Keeps your skin looging young and clear.
• Lowers your risk of diabetes.
• Helps prevent fatty liver disease.
• Helps reduce your risk of certain cancers.
• You will breathe easier and have more energy.
• You will have fewer cravings.
• Your breath will be sweeter.
• You will make fewer trips to the dentist and to the doctor.
• You will save money!
’11 Step Program’ to Break Your Sugar Addiction
1. Avoid As Many Processed Foods As Possible:
According to research done in 2013 by researchers from Connecticut College, it was found that Oreos can be as addictive as cocaine. Consuming artificial sugar stimulates our brain to produce dopamine a feel-good hormone. In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. This feeling does not last for long, thus, pushing you to crave for more sugar. This only causes the sugar addiction to intensify over time.
2. Concentrate On Natural Sweeteners:
There a couple of all-natural sweeteners available such as Stevia and Lakanto. Stevia has zero calories and is 300 times sweeter than normal sugar, yet does not raise blood sugar in your body. The two natural ingredients in Lakanto are Non-GMO erythritol and the supersweet extract of the Luo Han Guo fruit. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol naturally found in grapes, pears, mushrooms, soy sauce, cheese, wine and beer, so it and has been part of the human diet for thousands of years.
3. You Can’t Drink Too Much Water:
Sometimes the craving for water can be mistaken for craving for sugar. Our bodies need a certain amount of water per day. Depriving the body of this results in dehydration. Mixing some lemon with Stevia in your drinking water will make your water enticing to your taste buds. Thus, you won’t have as big a struggle with your sugar cravings.
4. Regulate Blood Sugar With Proper Eating Habits:
Consume several healthy meals throughout the day regardless of your appetite, in addition to several small snacks. For example, you could consume animal protein in the morning, gluten-free foods such as millet or amaranth in the evening. By doing this your body will be given the ability to produce more serotonin, making you feel happier and sleep better.
5. Eat Green Foods Every Day:
Greens tend to have vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, E, iron and so much more. Consuming green drinks, like smoothies, can help you boost your energy levels and reduce your sugar need.
6. Eat Fruits Every Day:
Fresh fruits or dry fruits (No Sugars Added) are packed with an assortment of benefits such as fiber, vitamin C, A, along with many other natural sweeteners. Therefore, stocking up on carrots, apples or dried fruits will help you by replacing processed sugars with natural sugars.
7. Take Long Walks Daily:
Being rooted in the same place either working or just watching a favorite show will leave you susceptible to falling back into bad habits where you grab a sweet or soda without even thinking. Therefore, if the craving starts to take effect just stand up and take a walk it might help to reduce the need.
8. 3 Meals A Day On A Regular Schedule:
Never wait too long between meals. With such a behavior you could possibly resort to eating sugary and fatty foods in order to cut down on your hunger. It is recommended that a person consume a simple healthy meal every three to five hours with small snacks between each meal.
9. Sugar-Free Gum:
Try buying sugar-free gum and keep it handy at all times. This not only reduces your sugar addiction but will also keep your face youthful by working your facial muscles.
10. Occasional Small Treats:
You are not trying to totally devoid your life of all sugars. So, it is not bad to give yourself a treat once in a while. (that does NOT mean once a day) Consuming a few occasional treats of what you like best will help you feel satisfied and fight off the feeling that you are being denied.
11. Sleep Is Vital To Winning the Battle:
The trick of controlling sugar cravings is controlling ‘ghrelin’, a hunger hormone, which is an appetite trigger and ‘Leptin’ which signals satisfaction to the body. It is vital to get these hormones working in harmony, and the only way to do this is to sleep for at least 7 to 9 hours daily. According to a study done by the University of Chicago, it was found that by going a few nights with reduced sleep will increase your sugar cravings by 30 percent. Therefore, depriving yourself of sleep not only makes sugary foods more appealing, but it also makes it much more difficult to fight the cravings. This occurs because the parts of your brain that help defeat the cravings do not operate as efficiently when sleep deprived.
Where sugar addiction is as difficult as some other forms of addiction, it is also a winnable battle. Follow the guidelines, eat well, get plenty of rest and take this one day at a time. Sugar will eventually be a long gone part of your diet. As the days go by, you will soon notice that the must-have sugar desires are no longer an uncontrollable part of your life.