In our modern American culture, we eat FAR more sugar than our body needs. Like, waaaaay too much.
The problem is that added sugar can’t be used properly by our brain and our body so it runs wild in our systems, wreaking havoc and ruining our focus and productivity in it’s wake.
Natural sugar is not nearly as bad. In fact our brains need glucose from fruits and carbohydrates to run properly. It’s the gasoline of our brains.
The sugar high.
When a person consumes sugar the tongue’s taste receptors are activated. That signals the brain, lighting up the reward pathway and surging those feel-good dopamine hormones to be released. When the reward system is activated too much and too frequently, we start to experience loss of control, craving, and increased tolerance to sugar,” neuroscientist Nicole Avena explained in a TED talk.
The shock of rapid sugar in the blood (hyperglycemia), signals the pancreas to produce increased amounts of insulin to carry the sugar molecules into parts of the body for use. It wants to move that excess sugar out of your body as quickly as possible. This was designed as a backup system in case of emergencies. Sugar is transported through the bloodstream to the liver for processing and to make it available for cell synthesis.
High levels of sugar in the bloodstream can cause our brains to fritz out. We become erratic and can have unexpected emotional outbursts. Studies have shown that the chemical composition of sugar (being very similar to that of cocaine) can cause a habit forming addiction, similar to habit-forming narcotics. When sugar is consumed it triggers the production of dopamine, one of your brain’s natural opioids or “feel good” hormones, which gives the “high”.
Since this process is meant to be used only in the case of emergencies and not every day, or twice a day, our bodies need to recover and go into sleep mode in order to rest. This is why we experience the sugar crash soon after the high.
The Sugar Crash.
Excess sugar that makes it way into your body needs to find a place to go and be processed. Most of the excess ends up being absorbed in your intestines and basically hijacks your gut.
Since refined sugars don’t have any accompanying nutrients (like most natural foods) they don’t have the tools to be broken down properly or used in the bodies chemical proccesses. Instead the body finds vitamins & minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, & B vitamins from other parts of the body (primarily the teeth and bones) to bind to the sugar molecules in order for the body to be able to utilize it. These minerals are not replaced and lead to a ton of longterm deficiencies.
These deficiencies result in complications and issues, including a serious sugar addiction, mental fog, depression, anxiety, and recurring infections, just to name a few.
A sudden drop in blood sugar level also triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones leave you feeling shaky and weak, and can make you feel like your heart is racing.
Before reaching for a sweet snack, consider eating a balanced meal or grabbing a meal bridge bar that balances natural sugars with the protein and fats that your body needs to process it appropriately.