Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sugar and Fat: As Addictive as Drugs?

If you've ever felt a rush after all-you-can-eat wings or a big piece of chocolate cake, you might know what I'm talking about here. The good ol' "Sugar High" is so-called for a good reason. In a new series on food addiction published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers have found that when sugar and fat are consumed in binge form, they elicit responses in the brain similar to those experienced in drug addiction! The consumption of copious amounts of sugar and fat in a short period of time triggers the dopamine reward system in the brain, making you want more and giving you that slightly drugged-up feeling.

If any of you have ever reduced your sugar intake or have cut refined sugars completely out of your diet, you might realize that it only takes a little taste for you to want to keep going back for more. I personally avoid refined sugars, but give me just one taste of something yummy and I can't help myself! When viewed in this light, it's not difficult to see why sugar and fat are so controversial and often take the brunt of the blame for an increasingly obese population.

Given the negative health effects of fats and refined sugars, it's undoubtedly a good idea to try to cut back as best as you can. Obviously we do need good fats and some sugars in our diets, so go for the natural stuff - fresh fruit (including avocados), nuts and seeds, a little bit of honey, even dried fruit is great (in moderation!). It's easy to get carried away with goodies, but you just need to just remember exactly why you're not eating that extra donut or brownie. Think arteries, think diabetes, think teeny-weeny-bikini!