Sugar Addiction: What the Rats Tell Us

Rats have a lot to teach us about sugar addiction.

Sugar ratsLet’s not stop looking only at the symptoms of addiction, but look at what the scientific community has to say about sugar addiction. When asked about if sugar is an addiction, most people in the medical community would shrug this notion off as if you were crazy. But, you aren’t crazy if you think you are addicted to sugar; many people know sugar is an addiction for them. There are scientific studies that show that sugar is an addiction. Let’s see what the researchers have discovered through their research in animals:

  • When rats have free access to sugar, they will eat a ton of it and will eat more sugar than any other food available to them. <see study>
  • When sugar is removed from the diet of rats that have become used to it, they shake, tremble, are anxious, and their teeth chatter. They are also prone to aggression. Any addict or junkie will recognize these classic withdrawal symptoms. <see study>
  • When sugar is removed from the diet of rats and when sugar is returned to their diet, rats will binge on the sugar. Similar to alcoholism and other addictions, this “deprivation-effect” is a phenomenon that explains what happens when the removal of a substance for a period of time results in an increased use of the substance and uncontrollable cravings upon its return. <see study>
  • When under stress, rats will consume more sugar. <see study>
  • When scientists look into the brains of rats, they find that there are physical changes along with increases in brain chemicals that are very similar to those of other addicts including alcoholics, smokers, and opioid users. <see study>
  • One of the best ways to study if a substance you are taking is addictive is to inject what is called an opioid antagonist. When animals raised on excessive intake of sugar are given such a drug, they experience anxiety and other signs of withdrawal similar to morphine or nicotine withdrawal. When scientists give sugar to rats for a long period of time and give them a drug (Naloxone) that actually blocks the brain from experiencing brain chemicals associated with drug abuse, the rats experience all the symptoms of withdrawal. <see study>
  • Cross-sensitization exists with sugar addiction. In other words, when someone is addicted to sugar, they have a greater risk of being addicted to alcohol, nicotine, and morphine-like drugs. <see study>

Why the medical community continues to treat sugar as if it is okay for anyone to eat and it is not addictive is one of the great mysteries of modern times. I, personally, wouldn’t turn to the medical communities for any advice on what to eat and what not to eat. Sugar is an addiction and it is harmful. My hope is that soon, the medical community wakes up and discovers how harmful sugar really is.

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