Why do we love sugar?

Sugar takes your brain on an addiction journey that can make it hard to resist. This excerpt from Julie Danelock’s new book, “Going Sugar Free: How to Break Up With Inflammatory Sugars and Accept a Sweet Life Naturally,” explains exactly what happens when you eat a lava cake.

Why do we love sugar?

Did you know that babies don’t taste salt until after four months of age, but our taste for sweets happens the moment we’re born? It turns out that Sugar It is a type of temporary sedative. A 2005 study showed that children can keep their hands in cold water for longer if they have candy in their mouths.

Sugar is so seductive that scientists recently revealed through brain scans that when we eat sugar, our brain lights up in a similar way when we take strong drugs like cocaine. Many mind-altering substances, including OxyContin, MDMA, heroin, alcohol, and marijuana, over-stimulate dopamine Rewards system. Dopamine, our main reward hormone, tells us things like, “Great job, do it again, you’re successful, you’re great.” It is released when we do things that we enjoy, such as meet friends, win an award, succeed at work, etc. It is also released when we consume sugar.

To make matters worse, dopamine receptors may become insensitive to the presence of dopamine when they are constantly triggered. If you are constantly raising your dopamine level, you will need to do more and more extreme actions to get the same “reward” that was triggered by a less extreme action before. In other words, your brain becomes resistant to the dopamine hit, which creates more and more extreme behavior. Since dopamine is the main hormone involved in addiction, you can see how it can work in the background of your sugar addiction whether you are aware of it or not.

You’ll get some dopamine response every time you eat a dessert, but you’ll need to increase your sugar intake to feel the same rush over time. Sugar elicits the largest dopamine response of any food on the planet, which is remarkable when compared to the response to other pleasurable foods that don’t stand a chance of getting our attention. I wish broccoli would generate the same reward response, but compared to the response refined sugar elicits, your reward center is simply bored with healthy food. Sugar is addictive because we never tire of the reward, and as the reward decreases with each hit, we chase after it more and more.

Let’s revisit that bite of chocolate lava cake. So glad your reward center screams, “Yeah, that’s a great idea! Repeat it!” We often enjoy being treated like this when we do other pleasant things. For example, if it is our birthday, we usually socialize with friends and consume other pleasant substances such as alcohol or caffeine that give us a big dopamine rush.

There is an old adage in neuroscience: “Neurons that fire together, synapse together.” This means that the more you turn on a neural circuit in your brain, the stronger the connection to the circuit becomes. If you keep chasing dopamine with sugar and combine this behavior with other pleasures, piling on multiple rewards that feel good in the moment may lead to long-term health effects. This chapter looks at ways you can create new behaviors that stack health cards in your favor. When you learn healthy ways to stimulate dopamine, you won’t need refined sugar or flour anymore.

Adapted from “Going Sugar-Free: How to Eliminate Inflammatory Sugars and Embrace a Sweet Life Naturally” by Julie Danelock. © 2021 Julie Daniluk Consulting Inc. Photography © 2021 Alan Smith, with Julie Daniluk, Bethany Bierema and Nat Caron. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced in coordination with the publisher. All rights reserved.

Nutritionist and TV personality Julie Daniluk is the award-winning and bestselling author of three books including Meals That Heal Inflammation and Hot Detox. Her fourth book, Go Sugar Free, was released in September 2021 by Penguin/Random House. Jolie is in her eleventh season as a nutritionist on “The Marilyn Denis Show”. For more information, see JulieDaniluk.comand Facebook and Instagram @juiedaniluk.

This article was first published in radiant life magazine.