Many people consume much more sugar on a daily basis then they should, and in many cases, they consume more than they are aware of.
Those who do realize how much sugar they intake and try to revamp their nutrition often struggle to cut sugar out of their diets.
While it has been proven that excess sugar consumption directly contributes to weight gain, the real problem occurs not because of the occasional sweet tooth craving, but instead because of the difficulty to kick the bad habit.
However, with obesity at an all-time high, a recent study led by QUT may point to the answer of why kicking your sweet tooth is so hard.
According to the study, the problem is that sugar is super addictive, so much so that it triggers the same neuroreceptors as addictive drugs and nicotine.
Neuroscientist Professor Selena Bartlett from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation explains exactly how sugar affects the brain, and why it is so addictive.
“Excess sugar has 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,” Professor Bartlett says in release.
“After long-term consumption, this leads to the opposite, a reduction in dopamine levels. This leads to higher consumption of sugar to get the same level of reward,” she explains.
So basically, the more sugar you consume, the more sugar your body craves and the more addicted you become, and the harder it is to kick the addiction.
If you shy away from regular sugar thinking that an alternative artificial sweetener is better for you, you may want to think again. The study also found that artificial sweetener can cause similar addictions as regular sugar and can quickly cause your body and brain to become reliant on the substance.
As far as kicking the addiction, it can seem impossible because it takes a similar toll on your body and brain as trying to quit smoking cold turkey. Causing a chemical imbalance in your brain and ultimately creating extremely unpleasant reactions such as headaches, mood swings and anxiety.
Bartlett and team found sugar addiction is so similar to an addiction to nicotine that there is even a potential aids used to help nix smoking could be used to quit a sugar fix.
“Our study found that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs like varenicline, a prescription medication trading as Champix which treats nicotine addiction, can work the same way when it comes to sugar cravings,” Bartlett says.
In the same way, exercise and different cleanses could also naturally help you kick your sugar addiction. Try diets like the whole30 diet to keep you away from sugar, your body will thank you!