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The danger of sugar acting like illegal drugs

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This study (from the National Institute of Health) compares sugar with illegal drugs, and if abuse can be considered addiction. This “food addiction” releases chemicals and has neurological impacts in a similar way to drugs. There is also similar behaviors of binge using, craving, and withdrawal.

Chemical activity and related neurons in the brain are activated by both sugar and drug intake. These include but are not limited to: dopamine, opioids, and acetylcholine. The activity of binge using is also common. Binges are a high escalation of intake, whether that is a long night of drinking or eating an entire box of Oreos.

Withdrawal symptoms are similar as well: aggression, anxiety, decreased temperature, and head aches. Drug addicts that go through withdrawal are aided by a drug called naloxone. When sugar addicts are given this drug, their cravings for sweets goes away. There is also gateway effects, where use of one drug can lead to using others. This was even shown that increased use of sugar can lead to increased use of alcohol.

The summary conclusion of the findings include: “The reviewed evidence supports the theory that intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavior and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse… In the aggregate, this is evidence that sugar can be addictive.”

You can read the full study here : Evidence for sugar addiction

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