If you’ve thought you were “addicted” to sugar, you very well might be. In fact, sugar has been shown to have effects on the brain that are very similar to some addictive drugs, triggering the release of the brain’s pain-killing opioids and of the reward neurotransmitter, dopamine! This means that our bodies accommodate to a certain dose and eventually require a higher amount to get the same “high”. Did you know that the average adult consumes 10-14 tsp of sugar a day?
A diet high in sugar leads to diabetes and obesity, depresses the immune system, feeds cancer cells, and can cause neurological damage, cardiovascular disease, and behavioural problems. Sweeteners are masked under many names, most ending in –ose. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, Splenda, or NutraSweet, can actually cause more weight gain than regular sugar because they alter the hormones in the body that govern hunger and blood sugar control, leading to more cravings. Some have even been shown to cause neurological damage, cancer, and seizures. The solution? Use natural sweeteners in small amounts, such as date paste, raisins, honey, applesauce, or stevia, in combination with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
Dr. Tamar Ferreira is a Naturopathic Doctor in Brampton, Ontario. Her areas of focus include digestive health, hormone balance, and skin conditions.