Between the addictive properties and the amount of consumption, it's not a surprise so many people return to their sugar consumption habits after trying to eliminate it. The addictive cravings for sugar and increasing consumption have long-term health impacts on your brain, body, and even cancer.
Sugar has addictive properties that create a dependence in the brain. A 2002 study on rats found that when sugar was removed from their diet, they developed physical symptoms of withdrawal including teeth chattering, head shakes, and tremors (Debara).
It also contributes to stimulating depression and anxiety by disrupting your body's ability to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone your body produces that stabilizes your mood. Low levels of serotonin is one of the primary causes of depression and anxiety (Debara).
The scariest impact sugar has on your brain is its ability to significantly increase your rate of cognitive decline. A recently published study followed over 5,000 participants for over a decade "found that people with high blood sugar, the swifter the decline. In fact, people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop dementia - which is why Alzheimer's disease is now referred to as type 3 diabetes" (Debara).
Along with the known association with heart disease and diabetes, sugar causes the body to create insulin and store it as fat. Anyone still following the previous held notions of diet will tell you that eating fat leads to obesity and high cholesterol. But the real culprit is sugar. When examining changes in Western diets alongside the increasing cases of heart disease, evidence showed one additive was to blame: sugar (Taubes, 2016).
With more studies emerging showing the link between Westerner's sweet addiction and cancer, many researchers have determined that eliminating sugar could be a critical preventative measure. Cancer cannot grow without a food source, which is primarily insulin. Sugar has the greatest impact on blood glucose, which stimulates insulin secretion leading to rapid increases in the rate of cellular growth. When specific mutations are found in cell pathways, the rate of signals speed up, "providing tumors with an overabundant supply of glucose, which drives their growth" (Crawford 2019). A diet consisting of sugar adds to this supply of glucose and can increase the growth rate of already active cancer cells. The reverse, a diet low in sugar (and only naturally occurring sugars) can decrease the growth rate of cancer cells.
If you are skeptical of the research or feel you are immune to the effects sugar has on the body, try removing it from your diet for 6 weeks. After getting over the initial withdrawal symptoms, your body will begin to have more energy, less inflammation and a better chance at longevity. Many people attempt a sugar free lifestyle but give up with the excuse "everything in moderation." But with the knowledge of sugar's impact on the body and long term effects on health, we should all be motivated to eliminate this harmful aspect of our diet in order to lead our best life!
Crawford, A (2019). Increasing Evidence of a Strong Connection Between Sugar and Cancer. Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-evidence-strong-sugar-cancer.html
Debara, D. This is Your Brain on Sugar (Trust us it's not Pretty). Retrieved from https://www.bulletproof.com/diet/healthy-eating/too-much-sugar-bad-for-brain/
Taubes, G. (2016). The Case Against Sugar. Retrieved from https://conscioused.org/books/the-case-against-sugar-gary-taubes-review-summary