But what does it mean to be "addicted to sugar"? The American Psychiatric Association has listed a series of key markers to define addictions, which include an unbearable desire to consume the substance, intoxication (or intense pleasure, calmness or high mood), failed attempts to stop the use of the compound, as well as tolerance and withdrawal symptoms due to not having access to the drug; all symptoms present in sugar dependence.
HOW DOES SUGAR ADDICTION OCCUR?
Sugar acts on reward centers in the brain that release a neurotransmitter called dopamine , which is responsible for the sensation of pleasure. Furthermore, from a clinical point of view, sugar addiction is actually a synonym for carbohydrate cravings , since they increase the percentage of tryptophan in the blood, an amino acid that is a precursor to another important neurotransmitter: serotonin , generally known as the hormone of happiness.
One of the main reasons why sugar is so addictive is because we feel like there is never enough. This is because sugar is absorbed by the blood in the form of glucose (increasing our natural levels), which in turn releases insulin, an enzyme responsible for normalizing glucose levels.
That is why after consuming sugar, you start to feel much better, you even have a small feeling of euphoria and the body regulates itself naturally. However, it ends up getting used to it and stops producing these two neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) by itself . At this point is where tolerance to sugar has already been developed , for which each time, to feel that effect that we described at the beginning, a greater amount will be needed, to a greater or lesser extent, when glucose levels drop again in blood: tiredness, irritation, nervousness or lack of concentration are some of the consequences when you do not give the amount that your body (increasingly) requires.
HOW TO GET OUT OF SUGAR?
- The first recommendation is that you gradually reduce the amount of sugar added to food to recover its natural flavor and reduce its consumption. We leave you some tips to achieve it.
- Always try to consume fresh products : fruits, vegetables, legumes , meat, fish or nuts.
- Consume vegetables at lunch and dinner , these being the most abundant part of the plate .
- Reduce the consumption of cereals and, where appropriate, always choose whole grains.
- Eat good fats at every meal , such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, seeds or nuts. In addition, they are very satiating.
- Accompany each intake of the day with a product rich in protein to lower the glycemic level of food . For example, instead of eating only fruit, accompany it with nuts or yogurt.