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Mechanisms of Sugar Addiction: Or, Why You're Addicted To Bread
sp_BlogLink Read the original blog post
May 7, 2011
11:08 pm
8 May 11 | CrossFit
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[...] Mechanisms of Sugar Addiction: Or, Why You are Addicted to Bread [...]

June 13, 2011
7:57 pm
How Did Breakfast Be
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[...] Bagel, toast, muffin, English muffin: giant balls of “carbs”, i.e. chewy, crunchy sugar. Did you know that bread—even “heart-healthy” whole-wheat bread—has the same glycemic index as Skittles? [...]

July 2, 2011
1:17 pm
Just how bad IS brea
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[...] Mechanisms of Sugar Addiction: Or, Why You're Addicted To Bread Nice article here explaining carbohydrate addiction. [...]

July 3, 2011
4:26 pm
Keith Baigrie
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Is it really the case that hunter gatherers can be so easily claimed as a behavioral bench mark for human eating behavior.

I also must applaud Cornelius's excellent point, that there were unrecognized seasonal aspects to be yet to be factored in.

I recollect that the northern European Vikings, who at the beginning of the last ice age, having earlier colonized Greenland, simply died out by not recognizing the futility of trying to 'gather' in continuous snow and ice…whereas the indigenous Inuit, who for thousands of years in the sub arctic didn't gather at all, but Lived almost exclusively on seal meat ( which interestingly also protected them from scurvy).

Surely, there are such serious genetic differences between all of us. Where say today a descendant of such an Inuit living in London, who still has a natural advantage of an ability to live in a severe cold climate surely is also likely to have also a genetic predilection and thus even a real NEED to 'gather ye rosebuds while ye may' in times of food abundance? As Cornelius's quibbles rightly pointed out

July 6, 2011
10:43 pm
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Keith:

You're right that the Vikings refused to adapt to climate change: they also apparently refused to stop sending much of their surplus back to Europe in return for religious artifacts, which didn't help.

I'm not willing at this point to speculate on racial/cultural metabolic differences, other than the "thrifty gene" hypothesis seems to have been largely abandoned.  If anything, blacks in America have a higher rate of obesity and diabetes than whites despite a more recent African origin, which pokes a hole in the idea that Paleolithic seasonality drives obesity in some races more than others.

JS

July 18, 2011
11:11 am
Breadless Sandwich &
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[...] crude construction.  Bread is always a hot topic.  Want to learn more?  Check out this website: http://www.gnolls.org/905/mechanisms-of-sugar-addiction-or-why-youre-addicted-to-bread/  And as always, if you like what you see here, check out the shop [...]

July 26, 2011
1:46 pm
The breakfast myth |
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[...] Bagel, toast, muffin, English muffin: giant balls of “carbs”, i.e. chewy, crunchy sugar. Did you know that bread—even “heart-healthy” whole-wheat bread—has the same glycemic index as Skittles? [...]

August 12, 2011
5:40 am
If You’re R
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[...] Sugar Addiction: Or Why You Are Addicted To Bread [...]

September 14, 2011
5:14 pm
PrimalNut
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Hi guys,

this is my first time here. Been reading all day long on this site, very interesting and very insightful!
I have been on a Primal 'diet' for the last 1.5 years and it has made a HUGE difference in my health. I have cured every ailment I had. From degenerative disc disease to life long sinus infections, life long suffering from constipation and extremely hard stools, brittle, prooly growing hair, nails that peeled backwards, misterious skin rashes that would come and go, at some point crippling rheumatoid arthritis in my ankles, feet, wrist and hands and slow steady weight gain even though I'd starve myself and consumed little calories (doh lol).
I have been following the MDA recommendations of the Primal Blueprint for the past 1.5 years but something was still off. MDA suggests to make vegetables the main bulk of a meal.
I just switched to an almost 100% carnivorous diet and finally got rid of my bloated belly! Yay.
The only addiction I can't seem to shake is my RAW goat milk consumption. Perhaps ditching the darn vegetables and eating more fat will allow me to reduce the amount of raw milk I consume.

Thx for this site and information
PN

September 15, 2011
11:54 pm
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PrimalNut:

It sounds like you've overcome a raft of problems...feel free to link this comment on the "wakeup call" thread.

I wouldn't stress too hard about the raw goat's milk: try coming off it for a while and see if it improves your health or body composition.  If not, then stick with it!

Welcome!

JS

October 7, 2011
7:33 pm
Jean
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I learned a lot while reading this article. Thank you so much for your willingness to compile useful data for those of us who fight carb/food addiction. A million times - thanks!

October 7, 2011
7:42 pm
FITNESS JIGGLE &raqu
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[...] Mechanisms of Sugar Addiction: Or, Why You’re Addicted To Bread (Updated) [...]

May 18, 2012
2:25 am
John
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What is the glycemic index for wine, beer and alcohol? I realise that this will vary greatly between varietals, distillers, brands, etc, but just curious and I haven't seen anything on this topic.

May 22, 2012
12:05 am
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John:

Ethyl alcohol doesn't have a glycemic index, because only foods containing glucose can elevate blood glucose!  And the point of alcoholic fermentation is for the yeast to convert the sugar and starch into alcohol, so usually there isn't much glucose left.

Beer contains some residual glucose.  Wine contains very little (with the exception of sweet/dessert wines like Riesling, port, etc.) because most of the sugar has been fermented into alcohol.  And distilled liquors contain basically zero.

JS

December 11, 2012
6:57 am
Lourdes
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I am curious about the relationship between eating disorders and sugar addiction. The model for explaining alcohol an drug addiction, where the brain gets its reward mechanism highjacked by the drug, does not seem to apply to eating disorders (specially compulsive overeaters). Following AA other fellowships like Overeater Anonymous work with the model of abstinence, in this case, abstinence from sugar and white flower. Obviously unlike alcoholic or drug addicts the eating disordered person has to eat. Maybe is a combination between compulsive behaviors and some sort of overreaction to the high of sugar, however I don´t seem to find any literature that explains this connection in a clear way, as it is has been explained when it comes to drugs, alcohol or even OCD.

February 12, 2013
10:59 pm
Kratoklastes
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Firs,t let me make clear that I'm not a 'shill' for Big Bread (or Big Wheat, or Big Agra): I am of the view that wheat is to be avoided to the extent possible - the 'complex' carbs in it aren't complex once they hit the mouth; the protein in it is both hostile to human gut lining AND addictive (the gluteorphins and gliadorphins); and WGA (wheat germ agglutenin) - the lectin in wheat - is an endocrine disaster.

OK... that said:

I wish people would stop using GI - it's the equivalent of using BMI (which is an idiotic portmanteau statistic that is meaningless the moment anybody does any resistance training whatsoever).

The GI of white bread is higher than that of Skittles (and of table sugar), however white bread only contains 51g of carbohydrate per 100g whereas Skittles contain 91g/100g - and furthermore, the fact that the carbs in Skittles are 50% fructose brings into play al lthe bad things about fructose (in the absence of VitC and fibre) that folks like Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig have made clear.

GI is based on a 'dose' of the relevant food that contains 50g of carbohydrate: the fact that bread is 51/91sts as carb-dense as SKittles, means that a serve of bread 91/51sts the size of the equivalent-GI serve of Skittles.

Glycemic LOAD for a specific serve size is a far more relevant measure. That's the GI of the food, multiplied by the carbs per unit weight of the food, times the weight of the serve.

Srsly... get yourself a blood glucose meter, and measure your blood glucose at 20-min intervals after eating a serve of bread and a serve of skittles: there is NO COMPARISON.

Bread is still REALLY bad for you though: check out the YouTube vids that detail how the well-meaning developement of high-yield semi-dwarf strains of wheat b yBorlaug in the 950s has had disastros consequences for humans. Modern wheat is almost the epitome of a 'designer diabesogenic' - AND it's addictive.

And who the hell eats Skittles anyhow? Anybody who lets their kid have them is committing child abuse (almost as much as people who religiously-indoctrinate their kids).

February 12, 2013
11:03 pm
Kratoklastes
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Oh, one more thing... the post's about bread (i.e., wheat) addiction, and there's no mention whatsoever of gliadorphins (the metabolic products of gluten and gliadin)?

W...
T...
F...?

Snark aside: if you give folks Narcan (naloxone) and tell them to chow down on wheaty products, they eat on average 400cal less than control. That's why naltrexone (oral Narcan) is now approved for use as a weight loss aid.

February 15, 2013
2:10 am
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Lourdes:

Apparently I missed your comment: sorry about that.

You are correct that the addiction model is not a convincing explanation for overeating: here's a paper that reviews the relevant research and comes to the same conclusion.  

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012 Mar 14;13(4):279-86. Obesity and the brain: how convincing is the addiction model? Ziauddeen H, Farooqi IS, Fletcher PC.

Meanwhile, you might find my series on the science of hunger interesting.  Here's the index.

Kratoklastes:

Yes, but what is a "serving"?  Does it have anything to do with how much people actually eat at once...or is it a number chosen by the food manufacturer to make the nutrition numbers say what they want them to?  A can of energy drink has two "servings" in it...but since when does anyone drink half the can?

That's why I find "glycemic load" to be a fudgy number, too: the actual amount of food people will consume depends on its satiating power, not its "serving size".

And yes, I'm quite familiar with gliadorphins.  However, this article is very much aimed at the introductory/beginner level...and when you try to tell people that bread is, quite literally, an addictive drug, they tend to shut you out like you're a conspiracy theorist.  (Keep in mind this article was written long before Wheat Belly came out.)

JS

April 2, 2013
11:58 am
eddie watts
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in the uk you can buy anything with nutrition guidelines based on one serving.
things like a 200g cake of which a single serving is whatever amounts to 100 calories.
beyond a joke!

April 6, 2013
12:29 am
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eddie:

It's instructive that we were all much thinner before food even had ingredient labels -- let alone calorie counts and serving sizes!

JS

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