Research Paper Sample on Sugar Addiction


Wake up, pour a bowl of cereal, and side it with toast and coffee. We begin and end our day with these sugar-packed foods that are leading us to obesity, cardiovascular disease, cavities, and diabetes. Maltodextrin, muscovado, barley malt, diastase believe it or not, are all forms of sugar. Despite the names, they all have certain molecules that make them sugar. I will cover the ways sugar affects the brain, the healthiest ways to consume sugar, and the addiction.

I’ll only have one slice of cake, another won’t hurt, maybe one more. You end up eating the whole cake. Many people would blame this on their addiction to sugar. Is it your sugar addiction causing you to binge?  Many scientists would say no. Sugar lights up the same region of the brain as illicit drugs though, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hooked. “Some foods are hard to resist because they’re pleasurable, not addictive” Rebecca L.W Corwin, professor emeritus of nutritional neuroscience at Penn State University says. Corwin says the distinction is important because addictions are commonly treated with complete abstinence from the problem substance. You need food to live therefore, planning on removing sugar from your diet will make you crave it more.

To clarify, we don’t usually seek sugar out of the bowl instead, we’re seeking the experience certain foods can give us, says Susan Albers, a psychologist and author of 50 ways to soothe your food. Your parents may offer you food when you feel lonely making you feel good. This affects emotional eating behaviour. A good way to fight your emotional eating behaviour is to swap out foods for healthier alternatives. You could try swapping ice cream out for yogurt, cereal for oatmeal, and jelly beans for berries.

Let’s move on from talking about addiction to talking about how sugar affects the brain. Sugar affects the brain in many ways that you probably aren’t aware of. The cerebral cortex(outermost layer of the brain) and subcortical(below the cortex) regions are constantly communicating with each other. However, when sugar floods the striatum(rewards system) with dopamine, it changes communication. The brain considers dopamine a happy event and it remembers what happened for it to take place, and repeat them. If the behaviour of eating sugar happens frequently under higher levels of dopamine, then it is probable the behaviour will happen again. With repetition, obtaining sugar becomes so embedded in our brains it's almost impossible to cast aside. This is to form survival habits. The brain still regards sugar as a scarce form of energy and nutrients that should be consumed profusely.

In contrast to habits we obtained millennia ago, the concentrated hyper sweetness of today's sugary foods is anything but natural and overwhelms the brain. “The dopamine response we see with sugar-it's not typical for food to do this”, says Nicole Avena, a neuroscientist and assistant professor of pharmacology at Mount Sinai. The brain's dopamine activity is usually calm in response to food unless the person eating is very hungry. The repeated dump of dopamine from sugary foods can cause modifications in the brain. Although it's not all dopamine. Sugar starts a neurochemical flood that stimulates the vagus nerve which helps the body’s relax functions and serves to the fight or flight state that arises in response to stress. “This is part of the reason we feel good after eating sugar”, Avena says. It’s also the cause of emotional eating.

Now that we know how sugar affects the brain, we can figure out the healthiest ways to consume sugar. When you eat something with sugar, it reaches the bloodstream as glucose. As the glucose levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin in response. Different foods and drinks cause different shifts in blood glucose. The foods that cause big spikes in blood glucose are associated with risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease. There’s sugar in fruit yet it doesn’t cause problems. This is because of fibre. Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate that slows the gut’s absorption of fructose and other sugars. Other great sources of fibre are whole vegetables and whole grains.

All in all, we should just try and avoid processed sugars. It affects your mood, changes your brain, makes you plump, and causes health risks. Just remind yourself sugary drinks and food do almost nothing to satisfy your hunger and just make your desire for sugar worse. There are many magazines, tv shows, and books that go deeper into the context of sugar. To sum up what I’ve talked about I explained the addiction, how sugar changes the brain, and the best way to indulge in sugar.  I anticipate this essay was informative and you learned a little more about sugar.

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