Sugar can affect the brain 'like a drug,' doctors say - KMSP-TV

Sugar can affect the brain 'like a drug,' doctors say

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Quitting sugar is difficult because it affects the brain much like a drug, making you feel good and wanting more. Quitting sugar is difficult because it affects the brain much like a drug, making you feel good and wanting more.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

For some people, sugar is like a drug and kicking the sweet habit is hard. Desserts like cakes, cookies and ice cream can be irresistible because of the effect sugar has on the brain.

"Sugar is a particularly potent releaser of dopamine, and certain combinations with sugar are even more potent," says Dr. Michael Lowe, a psychologist. He says that because sugar affects the "pleasure pathways" much like drugs do, quitting can be almost impossible.

Michael Healy actually enjoyed his sugar addiction until his doctor told him that he was pre-diabetic, among other problems. Now, Healy is in a study that is looking at how to rewire your brain to help you avoid sugar addiction and lose weight.

"It takes months, and maybe a few years, but the majority of people who lose that weight will regain it," says Dr. Lowe.

The best way to avoid sugar is simple: be be aware of what you're eating, and when you're eating it. If you can, avoid sugary foods altogether.

"When you're eating a high-sugar food on an empty stomach, you're not going to stop," says Emily Rubin, a registered dietitian.

For Healy, out of sight, out of mind goes a long way. "Anything I don't want to eat, I hide it or I put it out of my immediate view," he says.

So far, Healy has lost more than 35 pounds.

"I'll be 60 in a month I'm healthier now than I've ever been in my life," he says.

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