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The scary connection between sugar, junk food and drugs

By Kris Gunnars |


junk food and drugs

Science is plugging ahead and proving what we’ve long been saying – that table sugar, highly processed junk foods and drugs have much more in common than most people think. And the scariest part: they are all addictive.

These three things are consumed with jaw-dropping abandon these days, often because we don’t really comprehend how harmful they really are.

But the research doesn’t lie. We’re seeing tons of compelling evidence showing that all three cause the same behavioural symptoms, affect the same biological processes and can very quickly hook you into a scary state of addiction.

Here our friend and expert from Authority Nutrition, Kris Gunnars breaks down the topic to us.

Here’s a solid list of the disturbing connections science has linked to sugar, junk food and abusive drugs:

1. Junk foods flood the brain with dopamine: Studies have shown that sugar and junk foods flood the reward system in the brain with dopamine, stimulating the same areas as drugs like cocaine.

2. Junk foods can lead to powerful cravings. Cravings are a common symptom when it comes to both junk food and addictive drugs, and have very little to do with actual hunger.

3. Imaging studies have shown that junk foods light up the same brain areas as drugs of abuse. Scientists have used functional MRI (fMRI) scanners to show that the same brain regions are activated in response to cues and cravings for both junk foods and drugs.

4. A tolerance to the “rewarding” effects eventually builds up. When the brain’s reward system is repeatedly overstimulated, it responds by reducing its number of receptors. This leads to tolerance, one of the hallmarks of addiction.

5. Many people binge on junk foods. Binge eating is a common symptom of food addiction. It is caused by tolerance, making the brain need a larger dose than before to reach the same effect.

6. Cross-sensitization: lab animals can switch from drugs to sugar, and vice versa. Studies have shown that addicted rats can switch between sugar, amphetamine and cocaine. This is called “cross-sensitization” and is one feature of addictive substances.

7. Abstaining can lead to withdrawal symptoms. There is plenty of evidence in rats that abstaining from sugar and junk food can lead to clear withdrawal symptoms.

8. Junk foods are seriously harmful to physical health. It is common knowledge that junk foods are harmful, but many people are still unable to control their consumption.

9. Food addiction symptoms satisfy the official medical criteria for addiction. Medical diagnosis of addiction is based on a set of behavioural symptoms. Some of these include being unable to stop consuming the substance, recurring urges to use the substance, and continuing to consume the substance despite recurring physical problems.

The truth is, there are no fundamental differences between sugar addiction, junk food addiction and drug addiction, except that in the case of sugar and junk, the social consequences aren’t as severe.

It’s pretty crazy to consider that many of the foods we eat daily, share with our friends and loved ones and even offer as gifts on special occasions are essentially as dangerous and harmful as illegal drugs. It’s definitely food for thought.

Have you ever felt addicted to sugar or junk food? What things have you tried to stop the addiction?

Are you ready to transform your life and quit sugar for good? 
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