A few years ago, I remember how I was addicted to Coke and soda….it took me several months of serious effort to overcome that habit.
You could be one of those who earnestly desire and tries hard to cut back on sugar or junk foods, but you find it difficult and impossible to succeed. If it is so….you are a sugar or junk food addict.
Here is a video presentation that explains the nitty-gritty of sugar or junk food addition facts in an easily understandable manner.
Dr. Robert H. Lustig’s Explanations On Sugar Addiction
Dr. Robert H. Lustig says, “No one can exert cognitive inhibition, willpower, over a biochemical drive that goes on every minute, of every day, of every year.”
Sugar addiction is a serious problem….the healthiness of the body is at risk.
It appears that one’s brain has lost control and ceased functioning to resist sweetened foods, just like other addictions like drugs or alcohol.
Our brain is naturally tuned and programmed to control the amount of food we need. It also decides when to stop the feeling of hunger at the very moment we have the food.
Our exquisite and sensitive Leptin system modulates the food we need.
But modern food habits (foods with lots of calories, sugar, fat, etc.) have weakened the natural chemical mechanism that exists in our bodies.
Gradually the brain becomes unresponsive in controlling the intake of certain foods like sugar, junk foods, soda, etc. Of course…there are definite reasons for this.
The first reason is that Leptin, which is supposed to send the ‘starvation signal’ to the brain, becomes ineffective over time.
Secondly, Dr.Elissa and Dr.Robert H. Lustig explain how some of us become addicted to junk foods and sugar as brain chemistry gets altered to accommodate the pleasure we derive from certain foods.
Dr.Robert says that addiction results from brain reward centers (Nucleus Accumbens) being overstimulated by a particular taste or intoxication.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that functions at the reward center of the brain. Dopamine conveys the feeling of hunger and pleasure to our senses. As we desire more satisfaction and pleasure from certain foods, dopamine activism is increased to suit our cravings.
For example, suppose we keep having sweetened food regularly for a few weeks. In that case, dopamine gets stimulated, forming a habit to down-regulate that food or an intoxicating substance.
Dr.Lissa says that the brains of obese people have been altered to respond differently to different food. When a certain palatable food is regularly consumed, the brain’s reward center develops a kind of urge to have such taste again. It leads to overeating habits in people, especially with certain food tastes that they like and crave.
It is a biochemical drive that happens at the brain’s reward centers.
Causes For Sugar And Junk Food Addiction
Sugar is one of the foods that can give a lot of stimulation to dopamine in the reward center; this leads to down-regulate sugar consumption. For this reason, some of us develop an insatiable urge to have sweetened foods always. This is the same with junk food too.
Overconsumption of sugar is the main cause of obesity issues in people.
As we have discussed earlier, sugar is one of the foods that can quickly become an addiction.
As more sugar is consumed, dopamine release increases, and the down-regulation of sweetened foods sets in. This means the brain stops regulating the amount of sugar intake.
Over a period, the impact becomes greater… More food must be eaten to achieve the same reward given to the lesser amount of food earlier.
All substance abuses, like nicotine, alcohol, and drug addiction, also have the same addiction process as this.
Junk foods and sugar have become an addiction of different types.
Food addiction becomes severe and uncontrollable if Leptin resistance is also developed simultaneously.
The result of such a food addiction is massive obesity issues and diseases.
Influence Of Sugar On Altering Behavior
The brain, over a period, readjust its regulatory functions because of the foods like the sugar we regularly eat.
When the brain stops regulating sugar consumption, we develop strong addiction and the habit of eating more sweetened foods.
Over time, we develop erratic eating behavior…irresistible attraction, and craving for sweets.
The major aspects of the behavioral changes that occur due to addiction are as follows:
- Bingeing:- Escalation in the intake of a particular food or substance
- Withdrawal:- State of depression and anxiety arising from the unavailability or forceful abstinence from food or substance to which the person is addicted.
- Craving:- Excessive desire and enhanced motivation to have the food or substance that is not available
- Sensitization:- An addict who is sensitized to a substance, in the case of its unavailability, will navigate to another similar addiction. One drug acts as a gateway to another.
The only way to get out of this kind of food addiction is to exercise progressive abstinence from such foods forcefully.
The person should try to abstain from the addiction within a few weeks completely.
There are better options than substituting one food with another.
A friend of mine, addicted to cigarette smoking, decided to chew a sweet candy whenever he felt the urge to smoke the end, he overcame his smoking habits but became addicted to sweet candies.