I remember, a few years ago, 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 persons who earnestly desires and tries hard to cut back on sugar or junk foods, but you find it extremely 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
Sugar addiction is a serious problem….the healthiness of the body is at risk.
It appears as though one’s brain has lost its control and ceased to function to resist the sweetened foods just like other addictions like drugs or alcohol.
Our brain is naturally tuned and programmed to control the amount of food that we need to eat. It also decides when to stop the feeling of hunger at the very moment when we have the food.
We have an exquisite and sensitive system called Leptin that modulates the total amount of food we need to eat.
But modern food habits (foods with lots of calories, sugar, fat, etc.) have weakened the natural chemical mechanism that exists in our body.
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 the leptin that is supposed to send the ‘starvation signal’ to the brain becomes ineffective over a period.
Secondly, Dr.Elissa and Dr.Robert H. Lustig explain how some of us become addicted to junk foods and sugar as brain chemistry got altered to accommodate the pleasure we derive from certain foods.
Dr.Robert says that addiction is the result of reward centers (Nucleus Accumbens) in the brain 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 to attain more satisfaction and pleasure from certain foods, dopamine activism is increased to suit our craving.
For example, if we keep on having sweetened food regularly for a couple of weeks, the dopamine gets stimulated, and it forms a habit to down-regulate that particular 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 reward center of the brain 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 reward centers of the brain.
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 a down-regulate of the consumption of sugar. For this reason, some of us develop an insatiable urge to have sweetened foods always. This is the same with junk foods too.
Overconsumption of sugar is the main cause of most obesity issues in people.
As we have discussed earlier, sugar is one of the foods that can become an addiction very quickly.
As more sugar is consumed, the 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 amount of the same food is required to be eaten to achieve the same level of reward given to the lesser amount of food earlier.
All substance abuses like nicotine, alcohol and drug addiction also have the same addiction process like this.
Junk foods and sugar become an addiction of different types.
Food addiction becomes severe and uncontrollable if Leptin resistance is also developed at the same time.
The result of such a food addiction is massive obesity issues and diseases.
Influence Of Sugar In 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 the consumption of sugar, we develop strong addiction and the habit of eating more and more sweetened foods.
Over a period, we develop an 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 out of unavailability or forceful abstinence from food or substance to which the person is addicted to.
- 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 addiction that is similar to the previous one. One drug acts as a gateway to another.
The only way to get out of this kind of food addiction is to begin to forcefully exercise progressive abstinence from such foods.
The person should try to achieve total abstinence from the addiction within a few weeks’ time.
Here substituting one food with another is not the right option.
A friend of mine, who was addicted to cigarette smoking, decided to chew a sweet candy whenever he felt the urge to smoke at the end, he overcame his smoking habits but became addicted to sweet candies.
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