top of page

ARE YOU ADDICTED TO SUGAR?


MY ADDICTION WITH SUGAR 🍨 🍰

I am in my kitchen slumped over my laptop blogging. 👨🏾‍💻It's been a long day and I sort of just want to relax and do nothing. This is the part of my day when I usually do something I am not proud of; I snack. I am currently debating whether I should drink a Vanilla Coke or partake of my self mandated, "drink more green tea" initiative. I am proud to say that the tea won out this evening. Unfortunately, I don't think my brain is happy about it. (See my typical blogging setup below. The green tea is in that cup.)

I am glad to say that I have acquired a lot more self control over the years and didn't partake of that Vanilla Coke. I can always drink one when I want to and maybe tomorrow I might but for now I am going to stick with the green tea. I am proud of myself for not giving into my craving, but at the same time, I know that sugar addiction isn't something that should be taken lightly. I was previously addicted to sugar and I still struggle with it. The fact that I have Vanilla Codke in my pantry is a testament to that fact. Addiction is a serious mental health issue, regardless of the type of addiction that is presented.

At the height of my addiction, I was drinking about 5 canned sodas a day and maybe some candy bars or some other sugary sweets. Who here loves gummy bears? Anyone? This unhealthy habit of eating sugary foods often left me feeling: sluggish, tired, mentally drained, wired, depressed, and frustrated. I had little value for the adage that says, "you are what you eat." Let me explain why it is so important to get that concept into your mind and enforce it like a general in charge of an army.

(Before you continue reading, consider subscribing to the blog, where I write about deductive reasoning, education, learning, logic, puzzles, and mental health. Feel free to leave a comment about what you would like to read about below)

YOUR SORT OF LIKE GODZILLA, BUT ITS COOL

Many people have watched the Japanese monster franchise "Godzilla". To anyone unfamiliar with it, this lizard based monster, that towers about 120 feet, comes out of the water to fight other monsters. It usually destroys major parts of cities in the wake of the fight. In the words of Ken Watanabe, "let them fight."

Ok, so the comparison isn't perfect, but the idea is still valid. As you live your life, your body is constantly breaking down the cells that make you, you. It's like there are billions of Godzillas running around your city, destroying everything. Just like the people in the movies that have to rebuild after the devastation, your body has to rebuild itself. But how does your body build itself up again after it's been torn down?

First to digest food, your stomach uses gastric acids and enzymes to break down the things you consume. Food that you eat has different nutritional value. Some things have more fiber, protein, sugar, etc... In a article by U.S. National Library of Medicine they say that, "Gastric juice is made up of digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and other substances that are important for absorbing nutrients – about 3 to 4 liters of gastric juice are produced per day. The hydrochloric acid in the gastric juice breaks down the food and the digestive enzymes split up the proteins."

Secondly (I'm being very broad with these steps) proteins and other nutrients eventually find their way into your blood, which then gets delivered to other organs, muscles, etc...for consumption. Then those body systems use the nutrients to build and replace any cells that were destroyed. Once again, day to day, you are constantly breaking down your cells and making new ones. Your body needs proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids to build these cells.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ADDICTION? 🤨

Some chemicals or substances that you put into your body can be classified as addictive or nonaddictive. Nonaddictive chemicals are things that are neutral and don't cause addictive behaviors, although they can become addictive if not kept in check. The thing is that addictive and nonaddictive chemicals enter into your body the same ways. They go through the digestion & consumption phases outlined above. Your body metabolizes and uses them.

In an article by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, they mention that "most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. Overstimulating the system with drugs, however, produces euphoric effects, which strongly reinforce the behavior of drug use—teaching the user to repeat it."

(Download the PDF here) That's where we see the biggest difference between an addictive and nonaddictive chemical or substance.

The nature of addictive chemicals or substances often vary depending on which one you are referring to, but lets just discuss a couple of them.

Caffeine 😱(No Way!) - "Caffeine is a methylxanthine alkaloid found in the seeds, nuts, or leaves of a number of plants native to South America and East Asia that is structurally related to adenosine and acts primarily as an adenosine receptor antagonist with psychotropic and anti-inflammatory activities." This chemical relaxes smooth muscles like your intestines, blood vessels, and bladder. They additionally stimulate cardiac muscles and do a host of other things. Caffeine is the stuff that keeps you up at night and can make you agitated. Please try not to drink to much.

Sugar 🤤(So yummy) - Ignoring the technical jargon, sugar is a naturally occurring chemical found all over the place. Your body even makes it. Commercially we refer to it as sugar, but sucrose or saccharose are the traditional names. It is a combination of glucose and fructose. It tastes sweet and lets face it, it makes a lot of things taste better. This chemical is highly addictive and can cause a lot of major health problems if consumed in large amounts and regularly.

Cocaine 🤮 🤪 (No good) - Cocaine is an alkaloid ester extracted from the leaves of plants including coca...Cocaine binds to the dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine transport proteins and inhibits the re-uptake of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine into pre-synaptic neurons. This leads to an accumulation of the respective neurotransmitters in the synaptic cleft and may result in increased postsynaptic receptor activation." - National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=446220, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/446220 (accessed June 14, 2018).

For a more comprehensive list of addictive chemicals (my list is very general and only has 3) do a google search and you will find a lot of addictive chemicals or potentially addictive ones. Now I'm sure that you were aware that certain drugs, chemicals, substances, compounds, whatever...were addictive, but addiction isn't just gauged by things you eat. Your body creates dopamine and other chemicals that cause you to seek out addictive behaviors.

What's addictive behavior?

ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR

What is addictive behavior? American Society of Addictive Medicine re-defined what addiction was in August 2011. Here is the entire article (PDF). They say that, "addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors." That's a mouthful and the long definition is even more wordy. But I think the thing that is a major takeaway is that addiction is a "chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry." I think that's important because our brain health often im