Is Sugar a drug?

I’m sure you’ve heard that sugar is bad for your health, especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Research has demonstrated excess sugar alters our metabolism, cholesterol panel, packs on fat, is bad for your liver, brain, and is associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, anxiety, and depression – to name a few. 7 out of every 10 American are either overweight or obese. 4 out of every 50 have Type 2 Diabetes. Coronary Hear Disease is the leading cause of death in the US, taking a million lives every year. 1 out of every 8 have hypertension. 1 in 5 have anxiety and 1 in 10 have depression. But is sugar worse for you than, say, cocaine? According to some experts, including recent articles in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, CBS News, The Guardian (UK), and Nature, it is! They say sugar should be regulated like tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

Brain scans reveal that the areas that “light up” in our brain when we eat sugar, are similar to the same dopaminergic regions that “light up” when smokers, alcoholics, or drug addicts get their fix – a puff, a drink, a snort, an injection. This part of the brain is called the dopamine reward pathway. We are most likely to reach for a sugar fix during times of stress for comfort, especially men, since many guys don’t talk things out. Sugar influences serotonin levels, which can be calming. M&M’s, cupcakes, ice cream, a cookie, and suddenly we feel better…at least for a while. Then, we may feel bad again, and reach for more sugar. Hence, the addiction cycle. So, you may be high on sugar, whether you intend to be or not.

As a clinical pharmacist and clinical mental health counselor, I am fascinated with this topic of food and mood – and how it impacts our mind and body. We really are what we eat. I love helping people triumph over this challenge. You can always make a change, no matter how awful life seems to have been up to now, or how impossible any semblance of a good life seems to be in your future. All it takes for change to take place is to declare that it so and take right action. You are a powerful person, equip with the ability to change your mind and habits concerning how you would like your health and life to be from now on. Change your thoughts, words, and actions from negative and defeatist ones, to thoughts, words, and actions of hope, enthusiasm, health and success.

By the way, excess sugar isn’t the only thing to watch. It’s excess starches too and “bad” fats like: donuts, chips, popcorn with butter, nachos and cheese, white rice, non-wheat pasta with heavy cream sauce, white potatoes, white bread, and so on. A few resources I like are,, and

Stay tuned later this month for “Top 6 Brain Foods” to keep you strong in mind and body.

All My Best, Angelo.

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