Is sugar addictive?

Nicole Avena, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Research evidence suggests that sugar, when over-consumed, can certainly act as an addictive substance for some people, with symptoms that mirror drug addiction. Watch research neuroscientist Nicole Avena, PhD, explain sugar's impact on the brain.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Sugar can be as addictive as cocaine and heroin.

In this video, Dr. Oz welcomes nutritionist Melina Jampolis to discuss the addictive powers of sugar and fat.
Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing

How many of you believe this statement is true? Think about how you get a sugar high with increased energy and elevated mood from eating sugar.

Now think about how if you abruptly stop eating refined sugar you end up with headaches, moodiness and irritability, anxiety and depression and more.

Even cocaine is made from a natural substance but becomes a drug when refined to an unnatural state. Sugar when refined to an unnatural state becomes more like a drug than a food when you think about what happens to our bodies when we eat it in an unnatural form.

Sugar feeds our brains with two neurotransmitters beta-endorphin and serotonin that send positive messages to the rest of our bodies. Some practitioners believe that some individuals are sugar sensitive because they are operating with lower levels of serotonin and beta-endorphin leaving them more sensitive to sugar cravings. When these individuals, like myself who is definitely sugar sensitive, have sugar they get a sugar high which leads to even more cravings. Those of us who are sugar sensitive actually experience withdrawal when we stop eating sugar.

Refined sugar is stripped of its nutrients including the important B vitamins and magnesium and minerals that your body actually needs to process and metabolize sugar. This makes refined sugar not only an empty calorie (one without nutrients) but a negative calorie that pulls the much needed nutrients from your body just to digest that sugar.

This is why many people who eat a lot of sugar need to boost their vitamin and mineral intake, especially the B vitamins and minerals like magnesium and chromium.

Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine

When consumed the way humans ate sugar for thousands of years, which basically was whatever sugar was found naturally in food, it was not a problem. It was a treat. But now over one-third of our calories come from sugar and white flour added in food processing. And our bodies simply were not designed to handle this massive load.

Many have already noticed that although sugar gives an initial high, you crash several hours later and this leaves you wanting more. In fact, sugar acts as an energy loan shark, taking away more energy than it gives. Eventually, your "credit line" runs out and you find yourself exhausted, anxious and moody.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.