Millions around the world enjoy sugar, it is just enjoyable to munch on anything sugary such as chocolates, donuts, cupcakes, pastries and so on. Having a sweet tooth might be a delight, but for some craving sets in and there is a need for more. We have heard of people being addicted to alcohol and drugs, but sugar addiction exists as well. Medical experts say sugar has a similar addictive effect on the brain as street drugs and upon consumption there is a release of neurotransmitters dopamine and opioids.
It is proven that sugar activates reward center opiate receptor in the brain and this triggers addiction, even when a person does not feel good about eating excess sugar and there are negative feelings of guilt and consequences like hormone imbalance, headache and weight gain. Moreover the addictive effect is greater than cocaine. Oreo cookies have a greater rewarding effect than cocaine, contributed by the fact that greater number of neurons are activated in the reward center in the brain. An experiment conducted by Princeton University found when rats binged on sugar, there was dependency, desire for increased consumption and even withdrawal symptoms were noticed. Excess sugar consumption causes increased risk of cancer, diabetes, fatigue and weight gain.
Sugar is easily available and consumed by individuals of all ages, compared to alcohol or drugs and the addiction is therefore harder to break. The more sugar we eat, the more stressed we feel, because it is proven that sugar triggers stress hormones. Having a sweet tooth is not always bad, it is okay to munch on anything sweet, but just do not overdo it. It is essential to ingest the needed amount of sugar, according to The American Heart Association, the required amount per day is 100 calories a day for women which is six teaspoons or 25 g, and for men it is 150 calories a day which is nine teaspoons or 37.5 g.
It is necessary to know sugar has health benefits as well
It stores energy:
The body preserves excess of glucose that is not required for energy in the form of glycogen . The liver synthesizes glycogen and this is made of hundreds to thousands of glucose molecule chain attached by chemical bond and this mechanism is referred to as glycogenesis. The glycogen is broken down to glucose needed for energy when the primary source of energy is unavailable. This process happens during meals, during workouts and at night to avoid an extreme decrease in blood sugar.
Improved cognitive function:
Chocolate has cocoa rich in flavanols known to enhance thinking skills, and it also offers protection from brain damage. Dark chocolate is particularly good because of the higher concentration of flavanols and it is tasty as well.
Complex sugars maintain normal blood sugar levels:
Complex sugars are more beneficial than simple sugars, and the good sources are brown bread, oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. These foods helps in maintaining steady blood sugar levels and also provide fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Having the needed amount of sugar makes anyone feel good, the pleasure center in the brain is stimulated and there is release of dopamine. There is the instant feeling of happiness.
It is a treat and is tempting to have something sweet such as chocolate, cup cake, ice-cream and so on. It is important to limit the intake and to beat sugar cravings take note of these foods.
Chromium rich foods:
Chromium foods help in maintaining cholesterol levels and reduces sugar cravings, the good sources are eggs, whole grains, broccoli, apples and sweet potatoes.
Magnesium rich foods:
Eating a diet with insufficient amount of magnesium results in sugar cravings, and hence a magnesium rich diet is good, enjoy these foods to get a boost of magnesium like avocado, quinoa, brown rice, nuts, cacao and dark leafy greens.
Zinc rich foods:
Zinc is essential to maintain normal blood sugar levels and if not consumed in needed amounts, it can result in sugar cravings. The rich sources are oysters, pumpkin seeds, eggs and Brazil nuts.
Healthy fats help to maintain stable blood sugar and reduce cravings, the good sources are eggs, salmon, nuts, avocado, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
Initially it might be hard to completely overcome eating excess sugar, but do it gradually and remember it should be consumed in moderate amounts. Also check with your doctor on the amount of sugar you can consume. Therefore indulge in moderate amounts and enjoy your sweet treat.