The Sweet Life (it's all about balance, right?)
A little pre Christmas chat to help save you from the downward sugar spiral and withdrawals post Christmas! Why do so many of us find it difficult to say no to sugary foods? While in moderation, sugar-filled foods can be the perfect sweet treat, however, in excess, it can cause damage to your health and wellbeing. Today we will mainly focus on refined sugar, but first, a quick recap...
What is Sugar?
Sugar is a general term used to describe a group of molecules called carbohydrates.
Quick review of carbohydrates;
· Carbohydrates are found in a wide range of foods.
· Carbohydrates make up the majority of the average Joe’s diet.
· They are the most readily available source of energy for the body.
· They are classified in 2 main groups; Simple and Complex
Simple = High GI = relatively easy for the body to break down = quick source of energy followed by a sugar crash
Complex = Low GI = relatively difficult for the body to break down = sustained and long-lasting energy
How Your Body Processes Sugar
As soon as the sugary food has entered your mouth, it triggers the sweet receptors on your tongue. These receptors send signals to the cerebral cortex, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for processing taste. In turn, this activates your reward center.
When activated, your reward center, uses dopamine to give you feelings of pleasure and contentment, encouraging you to take another bite of the sugary food.
When your mouthful of sugary food makes it to your gut, it activates sugar receptors which send signals to your brain to let it know that you are either full or that you need more insulin to deal with the sugar you have eaten.
Dopamine is a chemical and neurotransmitter, that is used to reinforce behaviors and actions that meet our basic survival needs.
When you eat, it triggers your rewards center, spiking your dopamine levels, giving you feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
If, however, you were to eat the same meal every day, the level of dopamine triggered per meal would decrease.
This is because your brain has evolved to encourage you to eat a variety of food, to ensure you consume a range of nutrients. Sugary foods, however, skip this process and will continually release high levels of dopamine, potentially leading to excessive consumption
Due to this lack of recognition, the risk of overindulging with sugary foods is high. If you eat sugar filled foods in moderation, your body responds in the same way it does to other foods, by increasing dopamine levels to reward you for having that meal.
But if you were to eat the same sugary food daily for a week, unlike healthy meals, the dopamine levels do not decrease, as your body never tires of the sugary food, and in fact, continues to crave more.
In its extreme form, the consumption of excess sugar can lead to;
· Loss of control
· Increased tolerance to sugar
· Inhibition of your body’s ability to sense when it is full, leading to overeating
· Increased weight
· Heart disease
· Anxiousness, mood instability, depression
· Impairs memory and learning skills
Balance is key!
Consuming a balanced diet, that provides ample fuel to suit your daily demands is the best way to ensure you are supplying your body with the appropriate nutrients while not depriving yourself of a tasty treat. In other words, enjoy that piece of Christmas cake with butter but maybe rethink if you're going back for thirds, fourths or fifths....
Merry Christmas from the team at Retrain! We know we'll definitely be enjoying some yummy Christmas treats (in moderation, of course!). See you all in the New Year!
Retrain Health is based in the Northern Rivers, NSW. From our Byron Bay and Ballina clinics, our team provides a range of quality healthcare services and products.
Retrain Health offers osteopathy, remedial massage and strength and conditioning sessions with qualified practitioners.
If you are interested in finding out more information or would like to book an appointment, please contact the clinic by phone (02) 6680 7447, send us an email or click here to book an appointment online.