The Shocking Truth About Sugar (and Cocaine)

Having memory issues? Aging faster than you’d like? You need to read this.


If you’re anything like me, you love desserts. I never miss a chance to have a brownie after dinner. But research is showing that my sweet tooth may be the reason I can’t remember where my keys are.

The harsh reality is this: no human in this world can get through life without consuming sugar. The food we eat, the drinks we sip, and even the lip gloss we use all contain a certain amount of sugar. In fact, the average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. But how much does it really affect us?

Shocking, but true: sugar is making your skin wrinkle and sag (!!), and as if that wasn’t enough, it’s also damaging your brain…

The Shocking Truth About Sugar (and Cocaine)

Experiments were conducted on two sets of rats, where one group ate a sugary diet high in fructose and the other had a healthy diet. They made the rats navigate a maze with landmarks helping them. After six weeks, they were asked to navigate the maze again.

Those who were fed a sugary diet were much slower and when they were dissected, researchers noticed that their brain cells had noticeably declined. “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Prof Gomez-Pinilla.

The research focused on fructose — ie. the high-fructose corn syrup that is commonly used sodas, condiments, baby food and applesauce. Prof Gomez-Pinilla said that while natural fructose is also found in fruits, they are concerned about the unnatural and highly refined corn syrup type that’s in most packaged foods and drinks.

And if you think you’re being healthy by drinking “good for you” drinks, think again. Consumption of sports drinks (yes, that means Gatorade and Vitamin Water) and pre-packaged fruit juices are also a no-no, as (in addition to be packaged in highly toxic plastic) they contain refined sugar and have absolutely no nutritional value. Bottled fruit juices are heat pasteurized, killing the bacteria along with the nutrients, and increasing the sugar content.

The Shocking Truth About Sugar (and Cocaine)

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, sugar meaningfully decreases brain function.

And it’s not just your brain that’s affected. We are a product of whatever we eat, and when people, especially young children, consume a huge amount of sugar, this not only hinders learning and memory, but also causes health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Studies also show that sugar is one of the largest culprits in aging because when it hits the bloodstream, it attaches to the proteins and forms advanced glycation end products. It then destroys the fibers that keeps the skin strong and supple. In short, consuming sugar causes wrinkles by degrading the elastin and collagen in the body. 

As if you thought it couldn’t get any worse, brace yourself, because sugar is highly addictive. In fact, the scientific community consensus is that it’s a harder addiction to kick than cocaine.

Refinement processes similar to sugar refinement transform other plants like poppies and coca into heroin and cocaine, and studies show that seemingly-innocuous sugar can be even more addictive than the recreational drug. Subsequently, people experience dopamine depletion, intense cravings and other sugar withdrawal symptoms.

When you look at animal studies comparing sugar to cocaine, even when you get the rats hooked on IV cocaine, once you introduce sugar, almost all of them switch to the sugar.

The Shocking Truth About Sugar (and Cocaine)

“You get this intense release of dopamine upon acute ingestion of sugar. After you chronically consume it, those dopamine receptors start becoming down-regulated — there’s less of them, and they’re less responsive,” said James DiNicolantonio, the researcher who conducted the study at St. Luke’s. “That can lead to ADHD-like symptoms … but it can also lead to a mild state of depression because we know that dopamine is that reward neurotransmitter.”

So why isn’t sugar regulated? Because governments all around the world – from the USA to the UK – are on the take or under heavy pressure from industry lobbyists. The government subsidizes corn, so high fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar, and that’s why it’s so ubiquitous in our diets. They need to start subsidizing healthy foods. We shouldn’t be able to eat a Snickers bar for cheaper than we can eat an apple.

Remember when Michelle Obama wanted to take on sugar as an issue? The lobbyists shut her up almost immediately, and changed her tune from cutting down on the mountains of junk food and sugar that kids are fed (even in schools!), to her “Let’s Move” exercise pitch.

“Sugar is addictive. And we don’t mean addictive in that way that people talk about delicious foods. We mean addictive, literally, in the same way as drugs. And the food industry is doing everything it can to keep us hooked.” – New York Times

Want another video? Here’s Russell Brand sounding off about how the sugar industry controls the government and the public’s overall perception of sugar, preventing us from talking about how sugar is a toxic and addictive drug.

Next page: How to control sugar cravings and combat the toxic effects of refined sugars… read on!

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 118 Comments

  1. Avatar of Alyssa Palma

    Alyssa Palma

    I can’t stop eating sugar. I’ve tried several times and every try was the same: I feel so bad physically and mentally, I cry and can’t sleep or eat or do anything I just want something sweet so bad that I start drinking cups of honey and end by biting chocolate anyway.

  2. Avatar of Shanna Avery

    Shanna Avery

    I used to drink coca-cola every single day (I’d have a headache if I didn’t) sometimes even for the breakfast. Until I went to the dentist and had to fix nearly every tooth and even remove one. After that, I am scared to go around this soda. Now working on breaking my addiction from chocolate and pastry.

  3. Avatar of Brittney Cavalier

    Brittney Cavalier

    Stopped smoking, nail-biting and drinking pop but damn I can’t quit my sugar addiction.

  4. Avatar of Amy Bolden

    Amy Bolden

    I am extremely addicted to sugar. Since 2015 I’ve had it quite stressful, and so, my solution became food. I’ve always been addicted to light soda (like Cola Zero and now; Pepsi Max), but it’s evolved to the extreme since October 2016 and I feel sluggish, tired and sick every single day because of my sugar addiction. When I try to eat healthier and avoid gluten or carbs (pasta, rice, bread, potatoes) I get physically ill after a short amount of time. It’s even worse when I try to stop drinking soda all the time. I get dizzy, feel nauseous, I get the worst headache and it feels as if my body won’t work. I also get easily distracted and can’t focus when I am like this, and I get easily irritated. I know people who have been addicted to drugs of which I’d think would’ve been worse than just sugar, and I feel as though they were better than me overcoming THEIR addiction than what I am with my sugar intake. It stresses me out to the extreme, and if I could afford it, I would get a personal trainer and nutritionist to help me out. I actually WISH there were some sort of course or boot camp where I live to break sugar addiction and overweight and stuff. The fun part is that I’m tall, so I’m not SICKLY overweight just yet, but I HAVE gained over 20 pounds in under a year, which isn’t really good. I’ve gained about 60 pounds in 3 years, but I WAS struggling with depression and eating disorder three years ago, but have had a normal weight until last year. Thanks for this article! Hopefully, I’ll get through this and lose weight and be healthy again!

  5. Avatar of Kari Velazquez

    Kari Velazquez

    I had a really bad sugar addiction but one day I said to my self I will stop and it worked ( after the 10 time )

  6. Avatar of Mildred Thai

    Mildred Thai

    If you want to help yourself, get yourself into a challenge for a week and then you won’t need sugar anymore.

  7. Avatar of Dawn Scott

    Dawn Scott

    Why the fuck do you need to stop eating sugar????????? People are always looking for simple health solutions. There are none, it is about balance.

  8. Avatar of Denise McCoy

    Denise McCoy

    Soooo me, can’t stop having soda, energy drinks, chocolate, and cookies, Even if I workout and diet I always fail and drink soda and eat crap of candy. My addiction is strong

  9. Avatar of Beatrice Schnabel

    Beatrice Schnabel

    Sugar is healthy for your soul don’t listen to her.

  10. Avatar of Michelle Fisher

    Michelle Fisher

    I really want to break my sugar addiction. I’m so unhappy about it. I hide it from people. No one knows how bad it is.

    • Avatar of Kristen Wright

      Kristen Wright

      Please know that you CAN break it. and it might be easier for you if you have a friend to do it with you, that way you can support each other. the first step is to NOT BUY SUGARS. sounds easy and simple but if it is not in your house, you can’t eat it. maybe try drinking a herbal tea every time you want some candy. if you still want candy afterward, have one piece of fruit, at least it is natural sugar. you can do this!!

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