Is sugar the new cocaine? Sugar addiction and mental health.
Recent research has shown that sugar can be eight times as addictive as cocaine.
In recent research an astonishing 94 percent of rats who were allowed to choose between sugar-water and cocaine, chose sugar. Even rats who were previously addicted to cocaine quickly switched their preference to sugar, once it was offered as a choice. The rats were also more willing to work for sugar than for cocaine.
The researchers speculate that the sweet receptors (two protein receptors located on the tongue), which evolved in ancestral times when the diet was very low in sugar, have not adapted to modern times’ high-sugar consumption.
Therefore, the abnormally high stimulation of these receptors by our sugar-rich diets generates excessive reward signals in the brain, which have the potential to override normal self-control mechanisms, and thus lead to addiction.
There are at least two potential mechanisms through which refined sugar intake could exert a toxic effect on mental health. First, sugar actually suppresses activity of a key growth hormone in the brain called BDNF.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF, is a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the BDNF gene. BDNF is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors, which are related to the canonical Nerve Growth Factor. Neurotrophic factors are found in the brain and the periphery.
BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia.
Second, sugar consumption triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long-term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system, and wreaks havoc on your brain. Once again, it’s linked to a greater risk of depression and schizophrenia.
Sugar is one of the major causes of chronic inflammation in today’s society, Chronic inflammation in your body disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and can wreak havoc on your brain.
Chronic inflammation is also associated with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. So consuming excessive amounts of sugar can truly set off an avalanche of negative health events – both mental and physical.
One important thing to remember is sugar not only refers to white processed sugar but the other myriad of names it comes under from fructose to high fructose corn syrup.
It is a fact that sugar causes increases in your insulin levels, which lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging.
Dr. Russell Blaylock “high sugar content and starchy carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which can lead to falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, in turn, causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, panic attacks and an increase in suicide risk.”
Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, which leads to hyperactivity, anxiety, and difficulty in concentration.
This is just the tip of the iceberg and the damage that sugar is causing not only to our waistlines but our health in general from obesity to depression.