Sugar addiction: signs to identify it and keys to fight it

It is true: sugar is necessary for survival. Our cells need glucose for fuel. The problem with sugar is that it is too available and is consumed in excess in our society, because we tend to choose practical, cheap and easy-to-reach foods. We can find it in places as unusual as pharmacies, in processed, simple and artificial forms. And why not say it: on top, they are delicious.

This can lead to a wide spectrum of health problems, high blood sugar levels, and weight gain. When it comes to sugar consumption, awareness is key. So before I start talking about addiction, Did you ever wonder how much sugar you really eat? Do you know how serious it is?

In the last 40 years, we have increased our caloric intake by about 500 kilocalories (kcal) daily, that is, we consume 500 kcal more than before. All this increase is due to sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): a completely artificial type of sugar that is added to practically everything. From cookies and baked goods to sauces and dressings.

Food in restaurants and on supermarket shelves today tends to have so much sugar that we increase our consumption almost without realizing it. Pay attention to the amount of sugar we consume on an average dayIt can help us unveil if we are aware of the amount we ingest.

To find out if we are addicted to sugar, we will have to do a little research

Where to start? First, we can read the list of ingredients of the foods that we have at home. There you will be able to identify added sugars of all kinds: syrups, HFCS, glucose, sugar, maltose, maltodextrins, dextrose and many more.

But fundamentally, you must listen to your body and start paying attention to your energy level and your mood after eating. Our body is very intelligent, but sometimes we forget to listen to it.

High consumption of sugar causes increases in the release of dopamine: a neurotransmitter that acts in the central nervous system and is part of the reward system, generates pleasure and satisfaction. The more sugar we eat, the more dopamine is released. But as consumption increases and continues over time, a "resistance" to this dopamine signal develops: we need more and more to get the same feeling of satisfaction. By this mechanism addictions occur.

If you eat a lot of sweets and feel like you can't stop and your mood and energy are often low, you may be addicted to sugar.

Signs may include

• The "afternoon slump" in which your energy peaks just after lunch and then plummets.

• Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates like the famous "I need something sweet".

• Outbreaks of irritation, discomfort, anxiety or depression, which often dissipate after eating sweets.

• Excessive growth of yeasts or bacteria: dysbiosis and alterations in the intestinal microbiota.

• Inflammation or pain in the joints.

Often these are the result of sugar addiction. It is important consult your doctor when you experience any of these symptoms.

Yes> modifying your diet and your lifestyle. This is going to help you balance your blood sugar levels, that is, your blood sugar. This is important regardless of whether you have diabetes. Especially since it will allow you to keep cravings at bay and achieve or maintain a healthy weight over time.

Weight gain and imbalance in blood sugar levels influence each other, because the hormones that signal hunger and satiety are affected by glycemia and by our habits.

6 ways to regain balance

1. Eliminate sugar (especially HFCS and artificial sweeteners).

2. Add nutrient-dense foods, such as high-quality protein, vegetables, and healthy fats, a few minutes before eating carbohydrates.

3. Add soluble fibers (yes, more vegetables) to balance blood sugar and insulin levels.

4. Sleep at least 7-8 hours every night. When we get little or bad sleep, cravings for sweets and carbohydrates increase. Poor hours or poor sleep quality are associated with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity.

5. Combine the carbohydrates and sugars you eat with fats and / or proteins.

6. Get moving! Exercising regularly helps lower blood sugar levels and thus reduces cravings for sweets.

In summary: a high sugar intake can cause blood glucose imbalances, affect your mood and trigger an exaggerated response to stress. But fundamentally, remember that eating sugar makes you want more sugar.