Give me SUGAR!!!! And a little food addiction on the side…

sugarSo while we’re sitting here talking about drug addiction, quite a bit of research in the last few years has looked into food, and specifically high-sugar-content foods, as a possibly addictive substance (food addiction).

The focus started when the new head of NIDA (The National Institute on Drug Abuse), Dr. Nora Volkow, who’s been doing research on obesity, took her seat a few years back. Since then, there have been quite a few papers showing that when given foods (or water) high in sugar content, animals develop behavioral patterns that are very similar to drug addiction.

This makes sense from an evolutionary stand point, since sugar gives our bodies carbs, which supply energy for our daily activities. However, it’s probably no secret that 50,000 (or even 1000) years ago, people weren’t consuming foods with refined sugars crammed into them (refined sugars have only been around for about 250 years). Back then, people needed all the energy they could get their hands on.

Unfortunately for us, evolution doesn’t move as quickly as our industrial and technological advances, which means we now get more of the high energy foods more easily, all while moving less and therefore putting out less energy.

The result? Atkins diets and the likes recommending low carb intake, which in actuality, should probably read “sufficient carb intake.”

A very recent paper has shown that even artificial sweeteners (specifically saccharin, see citation), may be able to induce these types of behaviors. In fact, saccharin sweetened water (and also sugar sweetened water) was chosen over cocaine, even for animals that already liked cocaine, and even when they were offered more and more cocaine!!! How’s that for amazing?!

What does this mean for food addiction?

Well for one thing, it means that if we want to battle the obesity problem in this country, we need to re-examine the availability of these high-sugar, high-calorie foods. But, it may also mean that low calorie foods that are artificially sweetened may soon be shown to be as bad for us…

I’m telling you, by the end of all of this, we’ll learn that growing your own vegetables and fruits is the only way to stay healthy. Come to think of it, even then, I know at least one person who may be addicted to fruits…

Question of the day:
Does your experience with high-sugar foods lead you to agree or disagree with these research findings???

Magalie Lenoir., Fuschia Serre., Lauriane Cantin, Serge H. Ahmed (2007). Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE 2(8): e698.

7 responses to “Give me SUGAR!!!! And a little food addiction on the side…”

  1. From my experience helping over 150 clients overcome their sugar cravings, I can say, absolutely without a doubt, that the refined and excess sugars in foods cause an addiction.
    As a holistic health coach, I help my clients lose weight and manage their food addictions by bringing things down to the basics.
    I put them on a 3-10 day cleanse, focusing on simple, natural, organic foods.
    Their bodies are so fulfilled and content after their cleanse, they don’t crave the sugars their bodies once desired.
    Thanks for including this on your addiction page! The S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) is definitely causing some serious problems, this being a difficult one to break.

  2. Hey, thanks for the great post. Honestly, about eight months ago I started a new dieting regime, I’ve been on the chubby side my entire adult life and I’ve tried everything. I found personally that the only thing that worked for me was hard work and putting the effort, take a look at this, it changed my life Good luck and thanks for the great tips.

  3. If we could only get the folks out there to accept this truth about sugar dependency. Addictive behavior definitely a result of sugar. Unrefined sugars, or simple sugars are just as addictive. High Fructose, is in almost everything we make here in the US. It is not so in Europe. Also they don’t accept Genetically Modifieds. It’s all about the profits here, and the dangers are not known. We follow blindly, and wonder why the spike in brain disorders like autism, cancers, ADD, etc. Why don’t we make the connection? The temptation to make money over food safety is criminal….enough of the dark talk. The root of much of our illness is sometimes deliberate ignorance. IMHO

  4. @Jan..I accept this truth regarding sugar dependency, now how do we go about changing it?
    @sophie…more information please!

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