Similar to cocaine and other addictive drugs, sugar stimulates dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine release triggers a "high" because dopamine is our pleasure/reward neurotransmitter. When we regularly consume sugar, the brain tries to bring dopamine levels down by reducing the number of dopamine receptors, so it will then take even more sugar to produce the same effect. This leads to sugar addiction.
“Research shows that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine,” says Cassie Bjork, R.D., L.D. “Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior....”
"I'm serious when I say that evidence is mounting that too much added sugar can lead to true addiction," says Alan Green, M.D.
In fact, many recovered drug addicts testify that they only successfully overcame their drug addiction when they quit eating sugar.
When we feed kids sugar we are unintentionally setting up the stage not only for food addictions but also drug addiction and depression because their bodies will get used to dopamine highs (quick fixes) which can no longer be obtained naturally because the number of dopamine receptors have been reduced. When dopamine receptors are reduced, the brain will not have enough dopamine and the child may easily become addicted to whatever gives them a "high".
Adults also experience serious problems with sugar consumption.
“Medical addiction changes brain chemistry to cause binging, craving, withdrawal symptoms, and sensitization,” says Greene. “Excess added sugar can do this too, through changes in the same pathways as addiction to amphetamines or alcohol. Sugar addiction could be an even harder habit to break, according to recent evidence about how added sugar affects our stress hormones.” Bottom line: Sugar contributes to depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate, binge eating, and even drug (prescrition and/or non-prescription) addiction.
It is estimated that the average American eats 1/2 pound of sugar daily. How is this possible? Sugar is a common ingredient in breakfast cereals, bagels, breads, waffles, cookies, literally everything. Sugar in the amounts that people consume it today is a toxin. Sugar depresses the immune system and feeds parasites, bad bacteria, and yeast (candida). It robs the body of essential minerals needed for brain function. The sugar we are eating is making our society very sick. Sugar also reduces body pH which leads to Cancer.
Typically when we think of sugar we think of brown and white sugar. White Sugar is usually made from GMO sugar beets or sugar cane. GMO sugar beets are heavily sprayed with cancer causing Roundup herbicide. White sugar can also be obtained from highly processed highly toxic sugar cane. (Brown sugar is considered to be "healthier" than white but is often just white sugar sprayed with brown color.) Sugar cane fields are heavily sprayed with deadly pesticides and herbicides. Regular consumption of dangerous pesticides present in sugar can cause neurological, behavioral, and physical health problems.
Sometimes sugar is replaced with high fructose corn syrup in processed foods. High fructose corn syrup is often labeled as fructose or fruit sugars which is terribly misleading to the consumer. High fructose corn syrup is made from GMO corn and is very liver toxic. Artificial sweeteners are neurotoxic and should not be used for children at all.
How to Get Rid of Sugar Addiction
To successfully implement a sugar free diet, ALL junk food must be removed from the house. If its in the house, you and your kids will find it. Tip: if you want your kids to eat healthy, you set the example. Incorporate healthy foods at mealtimes. Eat dinner at home. Make sure that your family is eating wholesome meals with foods such as stone ground bread, organic fruits and vegetables, organic meats. If you are eating filling regular meals loaded with fiber and nutrients then the risk of turning to snacks lessens. A family effort will yield better results.
In nature, sugar is found surrounded by fiber and nutrients. When sugar is processed it loses its fiber and nutrients, thereby causing blood sugar highs. With the rise in the rates of childhood neurological and behavioral disorders, it has become more important than ever to avoid sugar consumption.
Good alternatives to sugar include organic raw honey, organic maple syrup, and pure coconut sugar.
Joseph's Organic Bakery is a SUGAR FREE bakery. Their baked goods are SUGAR Free, Trans fat free, soy free, corn free, and no Bromides. Their breads & cakes are made with stone ground ancient grains.
M.P. Geulah is the author of Managing ADHD Without Medication: From a Mother's Perspective, a book about raising children with ADHD and Autism available at the Bakery or online at Amazon.