The Sad Side of Sweet

After my friend’s now-deceased alcoholic husband stopped drinking, he became what she called a “dry drunk.” Though he no longer consumed alcohol, his behavior remained the same. He was still self-centered, mean and hypercritical, a man who drove off friends and made life beyond miserable for his wife. In addition, he consumed excessive amounts of sugar. As I understand it, he always loved sweets, but his intake morphed into high gear during his “sober” years.

Which brings us to the question—what’s the connection between sugar and alcohol and addiction to either or both of these substances? Dr. Carolyn Dean, an MD and ND in Hawaii, says that the fructose component in sucrose (processed table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup is “processed in the liver as a toxin and transformed into fat. Alcohol is processed the same way in the liver, as a toxin. Chronic fructose consumption and chronic alcohol consumption have most of the same side effects.”

Dr. Lisa Benton, a clinical health psychologist and health author at Maverick, writes that “Most people don’t realize that alcohol is actually the quickest acting sugar on the brain. In short, a “buzz” is actually a sugar high. … Sugar tends to affect the same part of the brain that heroin, cocaine, and other hard drugs do.” She adds: “Even sugar replacements such as Splenda tend to trigger cravings for sweet foods, thereby feeding the sugar addiction.”

In an article titled Alcoholism, Dr. Lawrence Wilson at The Center for Development in Prescott, Arizona, not only addresses “dry-drinking syndrome” (see link below) but discusses many factors involved in alcoholism, including hypoglycemia. “All alcoholics tend toward hypoglycemia to some degree. … Most have difficulty regulating their blood sugar level. When it drops too low, it causes strong cravings for sugar – and alcohol.”

He also writes about the candida albican yeast aspect of alcoholism. “A healthy body resists yeast overgrowth. However, if one eats sugar, excessive carbohydrates in the diet or alcohol, the yeast organisms survive and grow. … The yeast itself produces a small quantity of alcohol as part of its metabolic processing of sugar [and] helps perpetuate strong cravings. … People with candida overgrowth are slightly inebriated all the time. They may stop drinking, but their internal alcohol production continues, especially if they eat a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates.”

Dr. David Overstreet, associate professor of psychiatry at UNC-CH School of Medicine, whose study was reported in Science Daily in 2000, said, “Those individuals who [had] more alcohol-related problems … were more likely to report urges to eat sweets and craving for them. They also were more likely to report this craving when they were nervous or depressed, and they believed eating sweets made them feel better.”

According to Agriculture, some studies indicate the sugar-alcohol addiction cycle begins early. When refined-sugar “foods” replace nutritious foods in children’s diets, “this sets up the perfect beginning to a life of poor choices for health. … Children who consume large amounts of refined sugar in their diets are much more likely to go on and become drug or alcohol abusers later in life.”

If you have a spare hour or so, you might enjoy Dr. Robert Lustig’s popular YouTube lecture:

“Sugar: The Bitter Truth.”



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