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Study Finds Refined Carbs Are as Addictive as Cigarettes and Heroin


sugar addict According to a recent study, eating foods with a high glycemic index like pasta and white bread activates a part of the brain associated with addiction. This may explain why you eat half the contents of the potato chip bag when you sit down to have “a snack.”

Scientists Find Out Why You Can’t Put Down a Bag of Chips

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study consisted of monitoring the brain activity of participants for four hours following the consumption of a meal. Researchers discovered that processed carbohydrate foods like white bread and chips activated an area of the brain involved with reward and cravings. The findings indicate that the addictive nature of certain foods is not due to taste preferences but is caused by the way in which they affect the brain. This effect implies the physical cravings are similar to that experienced in cigarette smoking.

Junk Food Makes You Feel Hungrier

But the bad news doesn’t stop there. In addition to watching brain activity following a meal, the scientists in the study also monitored blood glucose and hunger of the participants.  They found high glycemic foods decreased blood glucose and increased hunger.

So in light of the new study, it appears that aside from leading to weight gain through its high-caloric content, junk food also leads to weight gain by addiction and by increasing hunger. These foods makes people want to eat more and more, abandoning restraint in regard to portion control.

Nutrition Expert Compares the Brain’s Addictive Response to Sugar with That of Cocaine

Live in the Now sought the input of Michael Wald, M.D., Supervisor of Nutrition at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco in Mount Kisco, New York. “Overall, this research has revealed that sugar and sweet reward can not only be comparable to addictive drugs like cocaine but can even be more rewarding and attractive,” he says. “At the neurobiological level, the link between the neural substrates of sugar and sweet reward appear to be more robust than the link between cocaine and sweet reward. This biological robustness may be sufficient to explain why many people can have difficulty in limiting their portion size to a prudent amount when they consume foods high in sugar.”

How a person thinks about food like chips affects addictive neurobiological responses, Wald adds.  “In other words, it is not only the food itself triggering addictive chemistry but the thoughts about the food can also contribute to the addiction by activating and/or reinforcing the chemically addictive brain chemistry.”

When asked about the portion of the study associating high-glycemic foods with increased hunger, Wald explains that when you eat sugar, it quickly crosses the brood brain barrier and signals to the brain, “feed me.” A diet high in sugar or a diet involving moderate but frequent sugar intake teaches the brain to want to eat more often, he notes.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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