It’s no secret that large amounts of sugar can hinder proper bodily function (too much of anything is a bad thing, right?), but what you may not know is that sugar is much more insidious than you imagined. Sugar has proven addictive properties, and lurks in practically all of the food we eat. It’s time you got the scoop on the scary truth about sugar addiction.
The Science Behind Addiction
One study from the last decade suggests that sugar addiction may be likened to substance abuse (albeit to a lesser extent) because sugar dispenses chemicals like dopamine into the bloodstream in high doses, giving it “addictive potential.” The study also identifies certain factors associated with addiction – such as bingeing, cravings and withdrawals – and finds a strong correlation between them and sugar dependence. In fact, research shows that sugar can even be more rewarding and attractive than other addictive substances “at the neurobiological level.”
How Excess Sugar May be Causing You Harm
Sugar, when consumed in excess, plays a detrimental role in proper body function. It poses the threat of fatal diseases and conditions like heart disease and liver damage, and impedes the production of insulin in the body. Further, insulin imbalance leads to the halted production of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, and can even lead to leptin resistance in the body – a condition that has the potential to cause weight gain and spur feelings of lethargy. Unfortunately, the average American consumes more than 50 pounds of added sugar per year, due to sugar’s addictive qualities and the way that sugar is skillfully concealed in many pre-packaged foods under its many pseudonyms.
When is Enough, Enough?
While a little indulgence never hurt, the most important thing to remember is that sugar must be consumed in moderation. The recommended dietary allowance for sugar is 6 teaspoons daily for women and 9 teaspoons daily for men – equating to about 25 grams, of 5 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Breaking the Cycle of Addiction
If you think you might be addicted to sugar, there are a number of ways to break the cycle. While going cold turkey on sugar is the most ideal option, it isn’t the most realistic. Gradually scaling back on your sugar intake in order to meet the recommended dietary allowance is an excellent start to defeating sugar addiction. Work on consuming natural sugars (such as those found in fruit) that are well-balanced with other nutrients. Most importantly, remember that moderation is key, and have a happy and healthy Halloween!
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