Sugar is pure calories with no nutrients.
Sugar craving → addiction through reward reinforcement
White rice and white flour are similar to sugar.
Increase fruit and vegetable intake and gradually reduce it
It’s common to seek out sweet snacks like cookies or cakes when you’re tired or depressed. However, this habit can lead us to a serious sugar addiction, which can lead to fatal health problems.
Sugar is a sweet-tasting carbohydrate produced mainly from sugar cane or sugar beets. During the refining process, vitamins and minerals are removed and only pure calories remain, which include sucrose, lactose, glucose, and fructose.
What makes sugar dangerous is that it not only causes weight gain and causes diabetes and heart disease, but it also has an addictive quality comparable to that of cocaine.
According to Seaside Palm Beach, an addiction rehabilitation center in Florida, a certain amount of sugar triggers a brain area called the septal nucleus, similar to how cocaine affects the brain, and activates the reward system by releasing dopamine and serotonin. In other words, both sugar and cocaine make you feel happy and increase energy.
However, sugar may be more dangerous than cocaine when it comes to addiction. Cocaine addiction, a psychoactive drug, is a disease that requires professional treatment, but sugar is one of the most abused addictive substances in the world. When the brain sees sugar as a reward, consumption becomes more frequent and the amount consumed gradually increases.
Another reason for addiction is that the brain’s aversion signal, which prevents excessive intake, does not work for sugar. So we often lose control of our sweet tooth and end up eating more than we planned.
In food, the ‘bliss point’ refers to the range where the ratio of salt, sugar, and fat is perceived as ‘just right’, and it is said that this perfect harmony provides the ultimate pleasure to our brains. This is why highly addictive foods, commonly called ‘sweet-salty-sweet-salty’, are often greasy. It is also a factor that causes sugar addiction.
Sugar intake is linked to stress eating
According to the Addiction Center, people who use sugar to deal with emotional problems are more likely to become addicted to it. In general, sugar consumption is associated with stress eating. Anxiety can suppress appetite by releasing the stress hormone cortisol, but it can also cause more sugar cravings in people who already like sugar.
Rapidly increased brain euphoria can lead to sugar cravings and, if not satisfied, can worsen anxiety. If you suddenly stop eating sugar, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, feeling dizzy, having difficulty concentrating, and becoming depressed. The best way is to replace it with natural, healthy sweeteners.
MedicineNet, a medical information site, warned against white rice and white flour along with sugar. Starchy foods are complex carbohydrates that are broken down into simple sugars. Highly refined starches such as white bread, pretzels, crackers, and noodles spike blood sugar and have a similar effect to sugar, so it is recommended to avoid eating them alone.
In addition, he said that ‘sugar detox’, which involves giving up sugar in a hurry, is like a yo-yo of rapid dieting, and is easy to return to previous habits, so he recommended making small, simple changes to your diet and maintaining it. Rather than suddenly quitting sugar, it is a good idea to start by consuming more fruits and vegetables and check food labels to check the sugar content.
High-protein foods and fiber keep you feeling full longer and do not cause a spike in blood sugar. Proteins such as chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, and beans, as well as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help with sugar cravings.
According to recent statistics from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of diabetes patients in their 20s and 30s is rapidly increasing. Nowadays, it can no longer be ignored as a disease that occurs only after middle age.
Change begins with awareness. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the daily intake of sugar consumed through food be 10% of total calories. How about taking a look at how much sugar you consume each day?
Chemical News reporter Park Chan-seo
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