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The Sweetness Trap: "sinking into sweet uncertainty"

We now know that over sugar consumption is a big cause of obesity, metabolic disease, type II diabetes, cancers, and many more health ailments that plague us these days. The other part is the effect that it has on our minds, yes it changes our brains.


The science used to only understand nutrition as calories and even used to use the phrase "a calorie is a calorie," unfortunately their view was so narrow and it resulted in an industry change of focus. They created artificial sugar with zero calories and tasted even better than real sugar. You get to fill your "sweet tooth" and still enjoy a low-calorie snack.


Well, Think Again!


This strategy is so perfect because your brain recognizes the sweetness, it wants it, it tastes good, but then there are minimal calories and none from glucose (sugar) so you are still hungry so you eat again. In this repetitive cycle is how people put on weight eating foods that are artificially sweetened. Oh, and they become addicting!



The Sweetness loop is a costly one for the body, the brain is designed to love the sensation of a sweet piece of food. It was and is a survival mechanism that told us that the food was good to eat and provided energy to survive. That was when we were grinding to survive in the world. Fast forward to the present where we do not have that need, there is no big survival threat, we have food readily available, we have shelter to protect us from the elements and there are no creatures that can kill us regularly in our way. (Other than ourselves) There are still tribes and civilizations that live this way and guess what? Their health levels are pretty damn good.


When we eat or drink something sugary it sets off the reward response in the brain, the brain wants more, it craves more stimulus. It also tells the brain that it needs it for survival (this is the old brain talking or reptilian brain). It hits the brain with dopamine, sending a feel-good sensation and that is what makes us search for and eat more of these foods.


With stimuli in the body, the body adapts to them and builds a tolerance, same with sugar, and then it requires a bit more to reach the new level to initiate the reward you once got. This makes you eat more of the foods with sugar or search for foods higher in sugar. The higher the sugar content, the more it sets off the reward. And foods with high sugar content were made for that, candies, baked goods.



To the brain, this is a constant loop. This is an addiction loop of sugar.


Now that we have covered sugar and its influence on the brain let's bring back the sweetness trap.

Many diets and healthy eating trends call for sugar to be cut out of the diet. In part, this is to shift your brain's reward system back, to tune it down to normal. It is not an easy thing to do, the brain will strive for sweetness. What many people do when they reach this point in the diet is look for foods that will satisfy their sweet needs but not necessarily have sugar. These foods have artificial sweeteners to mimic sugar but still "claim" to be on the healthy side.

Well, Guess What?


It is still feeding the sweetness addiction, you never really change your brain's way of looking at food or making food choices. So if and when the person stops the diet or falls off the routine they go back to eating the sugary foods again that will lead to weight gain and health complications.


The Solution

The solution to this problem is we need to rewire our brains to have a different perception of food and especially how it tastes. The ability to restrict highly sweet foods and drinks in your eating habits will lower your stimulus levels thus bringing your cravings for those foods down. This will make you have a new appreciation for things that are naturally sweet like fruits.


As you begin to change your mind and brain towards these new food tastes you will become sensitive to highly sweet foods and it may even become too overbearing or unpalatable because of the sweetness level. That is when you have mastered the mind in controlling the sweetness addiction loop.


Don't fall trap into the sweetness addiction loop that the food industry thrives on. Take control of your mind and health so you can liberate yourself from being manipulated.




References.


  1. Lennerz BS, Alsop DC, Holsen LM, et al. Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(3):641-647. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.064113

  2. Alonso-Alonso M, Woods SC, Pelchat M, et al. Food reward system: current perspectives and future research needs. Nutr Rev. 2015;73(5):296-307. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv002

  3. Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH. Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE. 2007;2(8):e698. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000698

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