Processed Sugar Can Cause Addiction and Depression

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 1997

Processed white sugar has no nutritive value left. White sugar has been distilled from brown sugar which was distilled from molasses. The molasses came from sugar cane or sugar beets (Whitney, Cataldo, & Rolfes, 1991). Processed white sugar is an addictive chemical (Sheppard, 1993). Processed sugars such as white, powdered, brown, molasses, and even honey have had some or all of their chemical bonds broken down between their basic components due to the amount of processing . Processed sugars present as a simple potent sugar which is easily and quickly absorbed by the body.

Processed sugars and carbohydrates, which turn into sugar, cause a rise in the insulin level of the blood. This also raises the endorphins level, a natural mood upper in the brain. These sugars causes the body to have a chemical high, mentally, which results in a lift in mood. .

Continuous large doses of sugar and/or carbohydrates, overtime, usually cause the brain's endorphins sites to slow production or close sites to regulate the amount of endorphins in the brain. When the body cuts back on endorphin production it reduces the amount of endorphins available in the body at any given time. The lack of enough endorphin in the brain causes slight to deep depression.

To maintain a normal level of endorphins in the brain the individual must eat more sugar and/or carbohydrates to get out of depression and maintain a normal mood level. This causes a vicious cycle of addiction, physiologically (Nay, 1996). This is also directly comparable to the cycle that is developed after excessive endorphins are released into the body from the use of alcohol. Excessive alcohol usage causes many of the endorphin sites to shut down. To get the natural high given by endorphins the alcoholic must drink more alcohol to get the same effect (Shkurkin, 1994; Sheppard 1993).

Physically, the body has been given a massive dose of sugar that goes straight into the blood system. It is the bodies business to keep the body's blood sugar stabilized. The body injects a massive dose of insulin. Insulin tries to neutralize the sugar by acting as a downer.

The sugar's effect on the body is short lived and wears off within an hour. The effect of the insulin has greater staying power. It is there long after the sugar wears off. This causes another mood swing. This time the mood is one of depression. Physically the body experiences lethargy. This usually causes the individual to use sugar to feel better (Whitney, Cataldo, & Rolfes, 1991).

In conclusion, when processed sugar is stopped there are two chemical related reasons for the resulting depression. There is the glut of insulin depressing the system and the lack of endorphins in the brain.

Continued abuse of the body in this way can cause physical and/or mental problems such diabetes and some bi-polar disorders (Whitney, Cataldo, & Rolfes, 1991).

The difference between fructose, that is the natural sugar in fruit, and processed sugars is that fructose still has its chemical bonds intact. This causes the body to take a longer period of time to break down the different chemical bonds. As the body dissolves each type of sugar it is releases a moderate amount of sugar over time. This gives a continuous energy boost to the body and a slightly elevates mood (Whitney, Cataldo, & Rolfes, 1991).

To get away from sugar craving, or sugar fits, individual's can use fructose, fruit's natural sugar, to mediate the effects of the processed sugar or sugar substitutes. Natural sugars are not as potent as the concentrated processed sugars or sugar substitutes. The lack of concentrated sweetness causes people to favor processed sugars or sugar substitutes over fruit in sweetening food (Nay, 1998; Sheppard 1993).

After an extended use of fruit and an elimination of processed sugar or sugar substitutes from the diet, the body becomes more sensitive to the sweetness or the fruit. The fruits blandness gives way to enhanced sweetness as the effects of processed sugar dissipates from the body. The brain will usually register the withdrawal of the concentrated processed sugars as the fruit having increased in sweetness (Nay, 1998: Sheppard 1993).

The benefits of using fruit instead of processed sugars and sugar substitutes is that the body does not have to work so hard to control the mood high's and lows. The body is not addicted to the chemicals in processed sugar. This causes less chance of overworking the system which leads to body breakdown and illness (Rememington & Parent, 1983).

Chemical sugar substitutes are not good substitutes for processed sugar. They, like the processed sugars retard the body's ability to lose weight. They stimulate the body's metabolism to crave more sweets (Baker & Baker, 1987; Rememington & Parent, 1983).



Nay A. (1998). A Holistic Approach to Weight-loss. Unpublished manuscript.

Rememington, D., Fisher, G., & Parent, E. (1983). How to lower your fat thermostat. Utah: Vitality House

Sheppard, K. (1993) Food addiction. (2nd ed.). Dearfield Beach, FL: .Heath Communication, Inc.

Shkurkin, K. (1994, December). Master's class in Substance Abuse. Presented at University of La Verne: Elmendorf A.F.B., AK.

Whitney, E., Cataldo, C., & Rolfes, S. (1991). Understanding normal and clinical nutrition. Saint Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Company.

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

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