Here’s what we at CultureWaves® (who didn’t major in neurology, pharmaceuticals, or any health related science) know:
We know that we, the general public, LOVES sugar.
We’ll consume it in any form we love it so much. We’ll drink it, bake it, deep fry it, grill it, and embrace imitators such as high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t matter. If it is sweet, we’ll consume it all. We consume so much in fact that the majority of us suffer from obesity, all because we lose our willpower to the insatiable sweet tooth.
Luckily, the masses are pretty aware of this fact.
Many studies have uncovered commonalities between sugar intake and drug abuse… Both sweeteners and drugs of abuse stimulate dopamine receptors in the brain, which are critical to reward and learning pathways.
There is also a cross-tolerance and cross-dependence observed between sugars and drugs of abuse. For example, animals that consume large quantities of sucrose are tolerant to the effects of morphine. Also, naloxone, an opiate antagonist, precipitates signs of opiate withdrawal in animals that consume large quantities of sugar.
Further, people addicted to morphine demonstrate a preference for foods containing large amounts of sugar.
Last, adaptations in the brain of obese humans, namely in the regions involved in pleasure and emotions, are the same adaptations seen in humans addicted to cocaine and other drugs of abuse.
In a nutshell we can see how sugar acts like an addictive drug we can’t do without.
You say maybe?
Like any drug problem, the first step towards recovery is acknowledgement.
So where’s the good news in this bad news? This finding points the way to new treatments for obesity based on the battle between addictive neural pathways and those of control. Again, from the article at BrainBlogger:
The addictive potential of food is intuitively appealing as many people struggle to gain control over their weight and eating habits and may offer new treatment options for obesity and its related metabolic consequence.
Like most our pieces found in our Flexible Flux wave, we’re a society looking for equilibrium. We want to know that not EVERYTHING is bad news. Articles like these give us hope. In the short term, maybe this out of control sugar and fat intake REALLY IS out of our hands. Additionally, it may just give the experts a way to, well, help us return to ‘skinny’.