Sugar Might Be as Addictive as Cocaine

It’s legal, socially accepted, and lurking in everything we eat.

We reward children with it, over the holidays or for a job well done in school. And we reward ourselves with it — after a particularly stressful day or to celebrate a birthday or a special success. We add sugar to our coffee, bake it into our favorite treats, and spoon it over our breakfast. We love the sweet stuff. We crave it. But, are we addicted to it?

There’s an increasing body of research that tells us sugar could be as addictive as some street drugs and have similar effects on the brain.

“Addiction is a strong word,” says Alan Greene, M.D., a children’s health and wellness expert and the author of books like “Raising Baby Green” and “Feeding Baby Green.” “In medicine we use ‘addiction’ to describe a tragic situation where someone’s brain chemistry has been altered to compel them to repeat a substance or activity despite harmful consequences. This is very different than the casual use of ‘addiction’ (‘I’m addicted to “Game of Thrones!”’).”

“So, I’m serious when I say that evidence is mounting that too much added sugar could lead to true addiction,” says Greene.

What is an addiction?

The link between sugar and addictive behavior is tied to the fact that, when we eat sugar, opioids and dopamine are released.

This post is also available in: Hungarian

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