Sugar, Heroin, and Alzheimer’s Disease – Kick the Sugar Habit to Decrease Your Dementia Risk

Photo by Alexander Grey on

Why is it so hard to take just one bite of that sugary treat? One square of chocolate? One jelly bean? Why do some of us need “double sugar” in the morning? Why do we crave sweets?

It could be due to sugar’s addictive quality.

There are many dangers of too much sugar consumption. Whether it’s hidden in our food or drinks, or put in our coffee in plain sight, it’s a well-accepted modern-day “drug” consumed by all ages. Research is finding that one of the many dangers of ingesting too much sugar is the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

Sugar Addiction is Compared to Drug Addiction

Sugar has long been compared to addictive illicit drugs like heroin due to its ability to trigger pleasure centres in the brain and create a sense of euphoria. While the addictive qualities of sugar are not as extreme as those of heroin, there are certainly some similarities between the two substances.

Firstly, both sugar and heroin activate the brain’s reward system. When we consume sugar or take heroin, our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of pleasure and reward. Over time, our brain becomes accustomed to these dopamine spikes, and we may crave more sugar or heroin to recreate that sense of pleasure.

Secondly, both sugar and heroin can lead to tolerance. As we consume more sugar or take higher doses of heroin, our brain becomes less sensitive to dopamine, and we may need more of the substance to experience the same level of pleasure. This can lead to a vicious cycle of increasing consumption and decreasing pleasure, similar to the cycle of addiction.

Finally, both sugar and heroin can lead to withdrawal symptoms. When we abruptly stop consuming sugar or heroin, our brain chemistry is disrupted, leading to a range of physical and emotional symptoms. These can include anxiety, irritability, headaches, and fatigue.

Differences Between Sugar and Heroin

There are important differences between sugar and heroin. Heroin is an illegal and highly dangerous drug that can lead to severe health problems and addiction, while sugar is a legal and relatively harmless substance in small quantities. However, the similarities between the two substances highlight the potential dangers of consuming too much sugar and the importance of reducing it in our diet.

Kick the Sugar Habit for Health

While sugar and heroin are vastly different substances, they share some similarities in terms of their effect on the brain’s reward system, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms. By understanding these similarities, we can better appreciate the potential dangers of sugar (including Alzheimer’s disease dementia) and make informed decisions about our consumption of this ubiquitous ingredient. Read labels and learn more about the hidden added sugar in your food. Reduce your dementia risk and kick the sugar habit.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Made with the help of ChatGPT

You may also like: 30-Day No Sugar Challenge Prep Week


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