With the continued consumption of sugar and starchy foods (specifically junk food, processed and artificial foods) our bodies become adaptable to the amount of sugar consumed and our tolerance/threshold increases. This means that more of these foods are needed to create the same effect (this is the same effect experienced by drug addicts and alcoholics). All we are doing is continually stimulating our primitive neurochemical reward centres situated in the brain.
The ordinary biological signals that control hunger become overwhelmed through this stimulation and our bodies (and brains) no longer understand the hunger and not-hungry signals.
Our society often views obese or overweight people as lazy and gluttonous: â€œWhy donâ€™t they just eat less?â€ or â€œJust say noâ€, we would not have a world facing a health crisis if it was indeed this simple. The truth is that sugar and carbs are addictive. Sugar and carbohydrate addicts are not weak willed, chocolate guzzling individuals; instead we suffer from the disease of addiction.
In addition to sugar and carbs being chemically addictive we also believe sugar and carbs to have strong emotional and behavioural addictive properties.
Dr. David Ludwig from Harvard proved that foods with more sugarâ€”those that raise blood sugar quickly or have what is called a high glycemic indexâ€”trigger a special region in the brain called the nucleus accumbens, the brain area that controls addiction. This pleasure center in the brain becomes activated; it makes us feel good and drives us to seek out more of that feeling, much the same way as conventional addictions such as gambling or drug abuse.
This, and previous studies, have revealed how this region of the brain lights up in response to images or when someone eats sugary, processed, or junk food.
A newer study was conducted recently, taking on the hard job of proving the biology of sugar addiction. To confirm their results, the researchers did a blind crossover study in which they took 12 overweight or obese men, all within the same age range, and gave each a low-sugar, low-glycemic index (37 percent) milkshake.
Four hours later, they learned by measuring that the low-glycemic index milkshake triggered no response in the nucleus accumbens.
Days later, a second batch of milkshakes containing more sugar with a high glycemic index (84 percent) was given to the same group of men. Not only were the two sets of milkshakes engineered to deliver precisely the same flavour and texture; they also had exactly the same amount of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrate. The high-sugar, high-glycemic index milkshake yielded reports of increased hunger and cravings after consumed. However, the breakthrough finding: When the high-glycemic shake was consumed, the nucleus accumbens lit up like a Christmas tree.
This study clearly brings to light two things: that the body responds quite differently to different calories, and that foods that spike the blood sugar are biologically addictive.
This study proves that food addiction is real and that the reason so many people are overweight and sick is that they are stuck in a vicious cycle of cravings. They eat sugary foods, the brainâ€™s pleasure center lights up which triggers more cravings, driving them to seek out more and more of the substance that gives them this high.