A study developed in 2013 about Sugar Addiction showed that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable*.
In humans, the situation may not be very different. Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine**.
And although other food components may also be pleasurable, sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world. For instance, functional M.R.I. tests involving milkshakes demonstrate that it’s the sugar, not the fat, that people crave. Sugar is added to foods by an industry whose goal is to engineer products to be as irresistible and addictive as possible.
In another study developed by the University of Utah in 2013***, it was found that “added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic impacts on mammalian health,” which caused r
esearchers to call for a reevaluation of these safe levels of consumption.
This study, lead by Professor Wayne Potts, has a grim message to send about dietary sugar and the harmful effects it can have at levels previously considered “safe.” When Potts and his research team fed mice a comparable diet with 25% added sugars, the results were anything but neutral. The study found that female mice eating the high-sugar diets for 26 weeks died at twice the normal rate and male mice were less likely to reproduce and hold territory.
Sugar also contributes to cardiovascular disease, as well as liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease****.
In a research developed by Dr. Nicole Avena of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (2014), it was indicated that “Several studies really do suggest that highly-palatable, highly-processed foods can produce behaviors and changes in the brain that one would use to diagnose an addiction, like drugs and alcohol ”*****.
Up until just a few hundred years ago, concentrated sugars were essentially absent from the human diet — besides, perhaps, the fortuitous find of small quantities of wild honey. Sugar would have been a rare source of energy in the environment, and strong cravings for it would have benefited human survival. Sugar cravings would have prompted searches for sweet foods, the kind that help us layer on fat and store energy for times of scarcity. Today added sugar is everywhere.
Whereas natural sugar sources like whole fruits and vegetables are generally not very concentrated because the sweetness is buffered by water, fiber and other constituents, modern industrial sugar sources are unnaturally potent and quickly provide a big hit. Natural whole foods like beets are stripped of their water, fiber, vitamins, minerals and all other beneficial components to produce purified sweetness. All that’s left are pure, white, sugary crystals.