Sugar is a soluble carbohydrate that is now present in most of the commonly consumed food items available today. In the past few years, it has been a part of major controversies and has developed a notorious reputation. As a result, many people today assume that like other drugs, sugar is also harmful and addictive. In fact, sugar addiction is the reason many are unable to cut it out from the diet. However, experts have recently stated that there is no scientific evidence that shows that a person can be addicted to sugar.
While there is no doubt that a high intake of sugar is associated with a number of health issues, there are also a number of myths regarding its use and consumption. For instance, sugar was said to make children ‘hyperactive’ and run around for a very long time. A study published in JAMA in 1995 disapproved of the theory and concluded that sugary foods did not have any impact behavior of children.
Similarly, it is also assumed that sugar works like drugs and is difficult to leave. A review published in 2017 gained much attention as it gave a similar conclusion. According to the findings of the research, the intake of sugar in animals overlaps with the effects of drugs such as withdrawal symptoms, craving, and tolerance.
The study was, however, based only on animals. The researchers later clarified that it is difficult to apply the findings to humans. Therefore, there is no evidence to show that sugar does indeed cause addiction. Till now, addiction-like behaviors have only been noted in a very small percentage of obese people.
The primary reason many people feel it is hard to cut out or is addictive is due to its psychological effects. Studies have shown that consumption of sugar is associated with pleasure, which is driven by brain-reward systems. This is also the reason why eating sugary foods is common during emotional breakdowns, stressful situations, and even celebrations.
Although experts agree that sugar addiction is not real, it does not mean that consuming it in high quantities does not have negative health outcomes. Just like all other foods, sugary foods should be limited on a daily basis.
This does not mean one has to cut sugar out completely from the diet. Sugar is also present in several naturally occurring foods such as fruits, which are nutritious and known to be beneficial for health. Instead of cutting out sugar completely from the diet, try focusing on foods that are more harmful.
For example, carbonated drinks and soda is linked to several health issues including obesity, kidney failure, cellular aging, type 2 diabetes, and even hip fractures. So, it is better to cut soda out of the diet rather than fruits. Similarly, some sugary foods are also recommended in moderation such as dark chocolate. Consuming dark chocolate will not only fulfill cravings but is also better than regular chocolate as it is a much healthier alternative.
Lastly, remember that moderation is the key to a balanced diet. Try to stick to a clean healthy diet that is neither too strict nor too unhealthy.