Sugar and Saccharin More Addictive Than Intravenous Cocaine?

January 11, 2013 | By | Reply More

Sayer Ji, Green Med Info
Waking Times

Sugar and artificial sweeteners are so accessible, affordable and socially sanctioned, that few consider their habitual consumption to be a problem on the scale of say, addiction to cocaine.  But if recent research is correct their addictive potential could be even worse.

Almost 40 years ago, William Duffy published a book called Sugar Blues which argued that refined sugar is an addictive drug and profoundly damaging to health.  While over 1.6 million copies have been printed since its release in 1975, a common criticism of the book has been that it lacked sufficient scientific support.

Today, William Duffy’s work is finding increasing support in the first-hand, peer-reviewed and published scientific literature itself. Not only is sugar drug-like in effect, but it may be more addictive than cocaine.  Worse, many sugar-free synthetic sweeteners carry with them addictive properties and toxicities that are equal to, or may outweigh those of sugar.

Back in 2007, a revealing study titled, “Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward,”  found that when rats were given the option of choosing between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, the large majority of animals (94%) preferred the sweet taste of saccharin.[i] This preference for sweetness was not attributable to its unnatural ability to induce sweetness without calories, because the same preference was found with sucrose; nor was the preference for saccharin overcome by increasing doses of cocaine.

A common argument against the relevance of animal studies like this to human behavior is that rats differ too profoundly from humans. However, even insects like forager bees have been found to respond in a similar way to humans when given cocaine, experiencing an overestimation of the value of the floral resources they collected, with cessation of chronic cocaine treatment causing a withdrawal-like response.[ii]

Researchers believe that intense sweetness activates ancient neuroendocrine pathways within the human body, making obsessive consumption and/or craving inevitable. The authors of the cocaine/saccharin study summarized this connection as follows:

Our findings clearly demonstrate that intense sweetness can surpass cocaine reward, even in drug-sensitized and -addicted individuals. We speculate that the addictive potential of intense sweetness results from an inborn hypersensitivity to sweet tastants. In most mammals, including rats and humans, sweet receptors evolved in ancestral environments poor in sugars and are thus not adapted to high concentrations of sweet tastants. The supranormal stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets, such as those now widely available in modern societies, would generate a supranormal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction.

In a previous article, “Is Fructose As Addictive As Alcohol?”, we looked at the addictive properties of isolated fructose in greater depth, including over 70 adverse health effects associated with fructose consumption. It appears that not only does fructose activate a dopamine- and opioid-mediated hedonic pathway within the body, but like excessive alcohol consumption, exacts a significant toll on health in exchange for the pleasure it generates.

The drug-like properties of common beverages and foods, have been the subject of a good deal of research over the past few decades. Wheat and related grains, for instance, are a major foodsource of opioid peptides. These pharmacologically active compounds, also found in milk,coffee and even lettuce, may even explain why ancient hunters and gatherers took the agrarian leap over 10,000 years ago.  Likely, the transition from the Paleolithic to Neolithic was motivated by a combination of environmental pressures and the inherently addictive properties made accessible and abundant due to the agrarian/animal husbandry mode of civilization. For more on this, read our essay “The Dark Side of Wheat.”

As far as synthetic sweeteners, an accumulating body of toxicological research indicates they have a wide range of unintended, adverse health effects beyond the aforementioned problem of addiction. For a comprehensive list, view our Artificial Sweetener Research page.

One clear implication of these findings is that one is best served consuming natural sweet foods, including honey, or fruit like apples. Not only are these easier to consume in moderation, but they have a profound set of “side benefits” as well.

Resources

About the Author

Sayer Ji is the founder and director of GreenMedInfo.com and co-author of the bookThe Cancer Killers: The Cause Is The Cure. His writings and research have been published in the Wellbeing Journal, the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, and have been featured on Mercola.com, NaturalNews.com, Reuters.com, GaryNull.com, and Care2.com. Check out his newest project with co-author Tania Melkonian:EATomology: An Edible Philosophy of Food

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Body, Earth, Food, Healthcare, Resources, Science, Self, Society, Time & Space

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

The Transhumanism Trap: Why Biohacking Chains Consciousness to the Material World

The Transhumanism Trap: Why Biohacking Chains Consciousness to the Material World













Dara Percival, Guest
Waking Times

Can technology help humanity realise its full potential? Transhumanists see the merging of man and machine as a natural “next step” in human evolution, but where does consciousness fall in the equation? Instead of bringing freedom, merging ourselves with technology could chain consciousness to More

September 1, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More
Do You Really Want to Eat Hot Dogs After Knowing This?

Do You Really Want to Eat Hot Dogs After Knowing This?













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

The hot dog is one of America’s most popular foods, with the average person consuming 50 of them per year. Hot dogs are one of the most nutritionally bankrupt foods.

Yet for decades, they’ve been given a free pass, granted one pardon after another thanks to … More

September 1, 2014 | By | Reply More
This Discovery Makes Bee Die-Off Problem That Much Worse

This Discovery Makes Bee Die-Off Problem That Much Worse













Heather Callaghan, Contributor
Waking Times

Many arrows point to the bee decline. A Harvard professorrecently warned that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is only the beginning for us. The ripple effect from new classes of pesticides is just getting started.

But there’s more…

The problems they face can be compared … More

August 28, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More
People are Proving That ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease is Reversible  – No Need to Waste Ice Water

People are Proving That ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease is Reversible – No Need to Waste Ice Water













Heather Callaghan, Contributor
Waking Times

I mentioned the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a recent article highlighting the social guiding that came with all the “disease awareness” we’ve been involuntarily immersed in via the media in the last few weeks. ALS meaning Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as … More

August 26, 2014 | By | 10 Replies More
Back-to-School Vaccines: Know the Risks and Failures

Back-to-School Vaccines: Know the Risks and Failures













Barbara Loe Fisher, Mercola
Waking Times

As summer comes to an end, the drumbeat promoting back-to-school vaccinations grows louder and louder in America. Unlike children in Canada and the European Union,12 our children must get dozens of doses of vaccines or they can’t get a public school … More

August 26, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

Activism Works

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients













Coach Mark Smallwood, EcoWatch
Waking Times

In 431 B.C. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

More than 2500 years later, we are inundated with advertisements boasting the latest, greatest cure-all super drug. From a young age, we learn that it doesn’t matter how or … More

August 23, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More
As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry

As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry













, EcoWatch
Waking Times

We’ve got this.

Thanks to the courageous and indefatigable efforts of pipeline fighters everywhere, the tide has finally turned on Keystone XL. As it becomes increasingly clear that Keystone XL’s northern leg is not going through, it is time to set our sights … More

August 4, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Seizing Control of Our Destinies

Seizing Control of Our Destinies













Julian Rose, Contributor
Waking Times

In 1381, at a time of great repression for the British agricultural work force, an extraordinary people’s revolutionary named Wat Tyler sprang to his feet and announced, “England should be a nation of self governing communities,” to which he added, “ No lord shall exercise … More

July 28, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More
Triumph For Citizens in Florida As Hughes Oil Company Drops Fracking Project

Triumph For Citizens in Florida As Hughes Oil Company Drops Fracking Project













Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog
Waking Times

On Friday morning, Dan A. Hughes Oil Company and the Collier Resources Company agreed to terminate their lease agreement, with the exception of the Collier Hogan 20-3H well, next to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Florida.

Hughes Oil dropped its plans to drill … More

July 14, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
A Forgotten Community in New Orleans: Life on a Superfund Site

A Forgotten Community in New Orleans: Life on a Superfund Site













Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog
Waking Times

Shannon Rainey lives in a house that was built on top of a Superfund site in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

“I bought my house when I was 25, and thirty years later, I still can’t get out,” she told DeSmogBlog.

Rainey’s … More

June 23, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More