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Seductive Sugar Struggle

Cakes, cookies, chocolate, ice cream, cereal, jam, juice, pop…all of these goodies sound delicious, right? But they all have one thing in common…SUGAR!

For anybody who has ever read any of my previous blogs or heard me speak, you will have heard me mention chemical stressors to our nervous system. But did you know that sugar is a very big chemical stressor? In fact, as shown on the PET scan below, the same areas of the brain get activated after eating sugar and after doing cocaine.

sugar-brain

“So what?” you might ask. Well, this indicates that sugar is highly addictive. Just as addictive as cocaine. The struggle against eating sugar is quite real. But there are many other reasons to stay away from sugar as well.

The Connection Between Diabetes and Sugar

I speak a lot about the hormones that get released in our bodies when we have a stressor, but I want to talk about something else today. Many of us wouldn’t be surprised to hear that high sugar diets go hand in hand with developing Type II Diabetes. But has anybody ever questioned why this might be?

Well, diabetes is related to an organ called your pancreas and its ability to produce and use insulin. When the pancreas is no longer able to produce adequate insulin or is unable to use the insulin it produces, you develop a need to take insulin injections, as any diabetic would be all too familiar with. But what stops the pancreas from producing insulin? While there are many factors involved in that, one of the biggest ones is an overworked pancreas. When a pancreas has to work harder than it normally should to eliminate extra sugar in the bloodstream, this slowly starts to have a negative effect. This is just one of the many reasons to decrease your sugar intake.

The Effects on Your Gut Health

Sugar also affects what happens in our gut. Did you know that about 80% of our serotonin and dopamine are actually produced in the gut, not in the brain? For those of you who don’t know, serotonin and dopamine are our happy, feel-good hormones. It stands to reason that poor gut health and poor gut bacteria actually have an effect on our mood!

When we feed the bad bacteria in our gut with unhealthy food (such as high sugar diets), we are decreasing the serotonin and dopamine that the gut produces. That is why sugar has been linked to alterations in mood (such as increased anxiety, or sadness).

Now, the problem with this statement is that many people feel the opposite after eating something with sugar. Many people feel elated, happy and satisfied. But this happiness and satisfaction are only temporary. We are feeding the bad bacteria in our gut, which craves more sugar.

When we eat sugar, we feel happy and satisfied. About 20 minutes later, however, you experience a sugar crash. How do you feel then? Are you still happy and satisfied? From my experiences, I am going to say you likely don’t. Sugar has an impact on our gut health whether we want to admit it or not.

What to Eat Instead

These are just two of the many reasons we should avoid sugar as much as we possibly can. There are natural alternatives that are much better than refined white sugar if we must have something sweet. Try using honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar in minimal doses. Stevia is also a great natural alternative to sugar. There are plenty of sweet treats you can make that don’t use refined white sugar. You can even use sweet potatoes to bake with and add natural sweetness!

So, you’ve got a sweet tooth, do you?
Candies, chocolates, pastries; anything will do
The more you eat, the more you crave
Until you’ve become a sugar slave
But this harmful substance is addictive
And your diet becomes rather restrictive
Each bite you take alters the gut
Until you find yourself stuck in a rut
Refined white sugar, you should avoid
Replace with natural alternatives, and you’ll be overjoyed!

Food for thought.

Yours in health; body, mind and soul

Dr. Julianne Donato, B.A., D.C.
Chiropractor in Burlington

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