Dopamine Driving Sugar Addictions

By: ALEXIS GILLEY

The United States is the largest consumer of sugar, with the average American consuming 57 pounds of sugar per year. There are recent studies showing about 75 percent of Americans eating more than appropriate amounts of sugar. What makes sugar so addictive though?


When humans consume sugar it activates the mesolimbic dopamine system, or the brain rewards system. Being a neurotransmitter created in the brain, dopamine acts as a chemical messenger between neurons. This release of dopamine signals to the brain that this consumption of sugar is a positive action. The mind uses this reward system to reinforce certain actions. 

Even babies are born with a liking towards sugar, due to the biological idea that it means energy. This makes certain that babies will accept fruits and their mothers milk after birth. With too much intake of sugar at a young age, kids can start to refuse non sugary foods. This is because whole foods and vegetables do not release as much dopamine when consumed. So people are more likely to want some candy rather than an apple. 

Like alcohol, the more commonly people eat sugar the more you need to have for the same amount of dopamine released. This causes humans to crave more and more sugar, creating the “got to have it” addiction. While some people believe that sugar can not be compared to something of a drug or alcohol substance, others believe that it has the same qualities. Diabeyes.co says, “As it turns out, sugar and alcohol are metabolised virtually identically in the liver.”  Sugar inflames the insulin in your bloodstream stressing out your heart and arteries. 

When you cut sugar out of your food system altogether it has a withdrawal effect causing many symptoms such as feeling run down physically as well as light-headedness and dizziness. While it is healthy to cut sugar out of your diet, it could be quite extreme. Replacing sugary foods with fruits can help with getting on the start to a diet. While fruits don’t have the same amount of sugar to cause the same amount of dopamine release, it gives the body a happy feel while still being a healthier sugar. This is because the sugar in fruits is a natural sugar which breaks down easier and burns faster. 

Consuming meat, milk, eggs, vegetables, and almonds are healthier foods that release dopamine into the brain. The more you eat these foods, the more your body will crave these healthy alternatives rather than sugar and fat filled food. It may not always be easy giving up an addiction to sugar but, with a will there’s a way. 

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