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What You Need to Know About Sugar Addiction

As a species, humans evolved eating the small amounts of sugar found naturally in fruits and plants. Today, the modern American consumes more than 130 pounds of sugar each year, half of which comes from artificial corn sweeteners.

Your body isn’t designed to handle the massive load of sugar that the modern diet thrusts upon you, and the United States shoulders the embarrassing obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome statistics to prove it.

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(Statistics compiled from the Harvard School of Public Health, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

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People are designed to crave high-energy foods like sugar. In nature, sweet taste means high calories, and to your ancestors, those calories could have made the difference between survival and starvation. Sugar also stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain, making you crave not only sugar’s calories but also its sweet sensations.

Defining sugar addiction

An addiction is anything that one must have to avoid a negative feeling or symptom, or the compulsion to artificially produce a pleasurable sensation.

Sugar addicts use sugar as an energy booster (to avoid feeling tired and hungry) and a mood lifter because sugar triggers the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are hormones that make you feel happy and satisfied. (Alcohol and cocaine are other addictive substances that trigger serotonin and dopamine production.)

As with drugs or other addictive substances, those who abuse sugar develop a tolerance to its effects and need more and more of it to yield the same rewards.

You’re probably a sugar addict if one or more of the following descriptions rings true for you:

  • Without sugar, you suffer extreme fatigue or have trouble concentrating.

  • You eat sugar compulsively, even though you realize the negative consequences.

  • You experience physical withdrawal symptoms if you go without sugar for a day or two.

  • You find yourself obsessing over what your next sweet treat will be and when you get to have it.

  • You hide your sugar consumption from other people or lie about your eating behavior.

  • You need more and more sugar to experience the boost. Foods that used to taste sweet to you don’t seem so sweet anymore.

  • You repeatedly eat too much sugar, even though you promise yourself that you’ll never do it again.

  • You turn to sugar for an emotional lift, such as when you feel lonely or when you’ve had a bad day.

How harmful sugar can be

Sugar, in all but the smallest amounts, is an addictive toxin and a driving force (or at least an aggravating factor) behind obesity, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, hypothyroid disease, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndrome.

These days the damaging diet begins in childhood, and as a result, young people are experiencing the devastating conditions and illnesses formerly reserved for the aging. Childhood obesity and diabetes are at an all-time high, leading most experts to believe that young people will have major problems much earlier in life because of their junk-food diet.

One of the most dangerous and seldom-discussed effects of a high-sugar diet is tissue glycation. Sugar causes a harmful chemical reaction in the tissues, forming molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that make your tissues stiffer and less elastic.

The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop, and these damaging molecules cause wrinkles, cataracts, stiff muscles, vascular disease, and brain damage — sugar literally shrinks your brain!

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