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Cocaine vs. Sugar: Which Is More Deadly? You Won’t Believe the Answer

Sugar, high-calorie and zero-nutrition
Sugar cravings lead to addiction through reward reinforcement
White rice and white flour are similar to sugar
Gradually reduce while increasing fruit and vegetable intake

Reaching for sweet snacks like cookies or cake when tired or down is common. However, such habits can lead to serious sugar addiction, potentially causing severe health issues.

단 음료 / 출처 - 프리픽
Sweet Beverage / Source – Freepik

Sugar is a sweet-tasting carbohydrate primarily produced from sugarcane or sugar beets. The refining process strips away vitamins and minerals, leaving only pure calories. The types of sugar include fructose, lactose, glucose, and sucrose.

The danger of sugar not only lies in its potential to cause weight gain and trigger diseases like diabetes or heart disease but also in its addictive properties, which are comparable to cocaine.

The Brain’s Response to Sugar vs. Cocaine

According to Seaside Palm Beach, an addiction rehabilitation center in Florida, a certain amount of sugar triggers the area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, similar to the effect of cocaine, activating the reward system with dopamine and serotonin. In other words, both sugar and cocaine induce feelings of happiness and increase energy.

설탕 /사진=픽사베이
Sugar / Photo = Pixabay

However, sugar can be more dangerous than cocaine when it comes to addiction. While professionals need to treat cocaine addiction, a psychoactive drug, as a disease, sugar ranks as one of the world’s most widely abused addictive substances. The frequency and amount of consumption increase once the brain begins to see sugar as a reward.

Another reason for sugar addiction is that the brain’s disgust signal, which prevents overconsumption, does not apply to sugar. As a result, we often lose control over sweet tastes and consume more than planned.

The term bliss point describes the range where we perceive the salt, sugar, and fat ratio as just right. This perfect balance supposedly brings ultimate pleasure to our brain. This is why addictive foods, often sweet and salty, are typically greasy. Again, this is a factor that leads to sugar addiction.

Sugar Consumption is Related to Stress Eating

According to the Addiction Center in the U.S., people who use sugar to cope with emotional issues are more likely to become addicted to sugar. Generally, sugar consumption is related to stress eating. Anxiety can release the stress hormone cortisol, which can suppress appetite, but for those who already have a fondness for sugar, it can trigger an even stronger craving.

The rapid increase in the brain’s happiness can lead to sugar cravings and, if not satisfied, can exacerbate anxiety. If you abruptly stop consuming sugar, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as hypersensitivity, grogginess, difficulty concentrating, and depression. The best method is to replace it with natural and healthy sweetness.

Healthy Alternatives

MedicineNet’s medical information site warned against white rice, white flour, and sugar. Foods high in starch are complex carbohydrates that break down into simple sugars. Experts recommend avoiding the consumption of highly refined starches like white bread, pretzels, crackers, and noodles alone, as they can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar and have effects similar to sugar.

Also, abruptly quitting sugar or sugar detox can easily lead back to old habits, similar to the yo-yo effect of drastic diets. Making small, simple changes to your diet and maintaining them is recommended. Instead of abruptly quitting sugar, it’s better to start by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables and checking food labels for sugar content.

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Dairy and Protein Foods and Fruit / Source – Freepik

High-protein foods and fiber keep you full longer and don’t cause a rapid increase in blood sugar. Protein foods like chicken breast, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help with sugar cravings.

According to recent Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service statistics, the number of diabetes patients in their 20s and 30s rapidly increases. It can no longer be dismissed as a disease that only affects middle-aged and older people.

Change starts with awareness. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the daily sugar intake through food should be about 10% of total calories. It might be worth taking a moment to consider how much sugar you consume in a day.

By. Park Chan Seo

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