Why is Sugar so Addicting?
Table sugar (sucrose) is one of many types of sugar that can drive addiction.
Sucrose is a “double” sugar, meaning that it is a 2-sugar unit.
One unit is glucose, also known as blood sugar. The other is fructose or fruit sugar. Sucrose and fructose are used as sweeteners in many foods and beverages.
Two things happen when sucrose hits your digestive tract.
- One is that it is split into its two separate components, glucose and fructose.
- The other is that sucrose, glucose, and fructose stimulate growth by the wrong kinds of microbes in your GI tract.
Addiction to these simple sugars is driven by one of those microbes, the candida yeast. It is an opportunistic microbe that takes over the gut whenever it gets the right fuel – sugars. Well-fed candida yeast outcompetes and even inhibits the friendly bacteria that keep your gut healthy.
Therein is where sugar addiction ramps up.
Yeast overgrowth damages the delicate lining of the GI tract, which allows the yeast to escape the gut and infect your whole body. This enables the yeast to take over communication between your gut and your main brain.
Did you know that yeast in your gut takes control of your brain?
The message that your brain gets is, “Feed me more sugar.” That’s how your all-important gut-brain connection becomes a conduit for sugar addiction.
The term for yeast overgrowth is candidiasis. That is just a fancy way of saying that the growth of candida yeast is out of control body-wide.
Getting yeast back under control is a particular challenge because candida is a fungus.
It doesn’t respond to antibiotics.
Indeed, antibiotics make candidiasis worse because they further damage the friendly bacteria that you need for controlling yeast overgrowth in the first place.
Eliminating or reducing your sugar intake is just the first step for rebalancing your gut bacteria. That’s not sufficient by itself, though. In addition, you must add healthy bacteria back into your GI tract. Both of these strategies go hand in hand to drive your recovery from yeast overgrowth.
Can adding friendly bacteria back into your gut be straightforward?
All you have to do is consume probiotic bacteria, either in fermented foods or from supplements. This is where probiotics are especially powerful. They help your friendly bacteria get back on track.
Probiotics help your gut suppress candida growth, enable the gut lining to heal and reestablish the proper control of your gut-brain axis. The result: reduction of your sugar addiction.
Candida feeds on simple sugars no matter their source, says Amy Myers, M.D.
Glucose, in particular, comes from many non-sweet foods. Starchy foods are the most common ones. Starch is made of many glucose units chained together into a large molecule.
Starch is very easy to digest.
Digestion starts with enzymes in your saliva that break it down even before you swallow your food.
Starch becomes another “sugar-hit” that feeds candida yeast. Reducing starchy foods, therefore, is also important for addressing sugar addiction.