Eat​ ​Well,​ ​Feel​ ​Well:​ ​​ ​Are​ ​you​ ​Addicted​ ​to​ ​Sugar?


By: Rika Mansingh, Registered Dietician, B.Sc.Dietetics(UNP), PG.Dip.Diet(UKZN), DCEP(CA)


The​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​sugar​ ​you​ ​eat​ ​can​ ​directly​ ​impact​ ​your​ ​mood,​ ​level​ ​of​ ​relaxation, alertness,​ ​memory​ ​and​ ​sleep.​ ​​ ​The​ ​more​ ​unstable​ ​your​ ​blood​ ​sugars,​ ​the​ ​more​ ​you​ ​will experience​ ​symptoms​ ​of​ ​fatigue,​ ​dizziness,​ ​irritability,​ ​poor​ ​concentration​ ​and depression.

When​ ​we​ ​devour​ ​a​ ​sweet​ ​dessert,​ ​a​ ​signal​ ​is​ ​sent​ ​to​ ​the​ ​cerebral​ ​cortex​ ​of​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​and the​ ​brain’s​ ​reward​ ​system​ ​is​ ​activated.​ ​​ ​The​ ​brain’s​ ​reward​ ​system​ ​is​ ​a​ ​series​ ​of​ ​chemical and​ ​electrical​ ​pathways​ ​that​ ​lead​ ​our​ ​subconscious​ ​mind​ ​to​ ​make​ ​an​ ​association between​ ​what​ ​we​ ​are​ ​consuming​ ​and​ ​the​ ​satisfying​ ​feeling​ ​produced​ ​after​ ​consuming​ ​it.

A​ ​high​ ​consumption​ ​of​ ​sugar​ ​increases​ ​the​ ​neurotransmitter​ ​(chemical​ ​messenger​ ​in​ ​the brain),​ ​called​ ​dopamine.​ ​When​ ​dopamine​ ​is​ ​released,​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​uplifted​ ​and​ ​rewarded initially​ ​but​ ​about​ ​1-2​ ​hours​ ​later​ ​you​ ​may​ ​notice​ ​yourself​ ​feeling​ ​down,​ ​foggy,​ ​drowsy and​ ​irritable.​ ​​ ​If​ ​you​ ​keep​ ​pushing​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​to​ ​release​ ​dopamine​ ​with​ ​more​ ​sugar,​ ​the brain​ ​responds​ ​by​ ​down​ ​regulating​ ​dopamine​ ​receptors​ ​to​ ​stop​ ​producing​ ​natural dopamine.​ ​​ ​This​ ​leads​ ​to​ ​symptoms​ ​of​ ​lethargy,​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​motivation​ ​and​ ​drive.

Frequent​ ​high​ ​consumption​ ​of​ ​sugar​ ​results​ ​in​ ​tolerance​ ​and​ ​withdrawal,​ ​which​ ​are​ ​the hallmarks​ ​of​ ​addiction.​ ​​ ​Addiction​ ​is​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​word​ ​but​ ​helps​ ​us​ ​realize​ ​the​ ​power​ ​certain foods​ ​can​ ​have​ ​on​ ​our​ ​brain.​ ​​ ​You​ ​may​ ​crave​ ​more​ ​sugar​ ​to​ ​give​ ​you​ ​the​ ​same heightened​ ​feeling​ ​after​ ​developing​ ​a​ ​tolerance​ ​and​ ​will​ ​feel​ ​withdrawal​ ​symptoms​ ​such as​ ​fatigue,​ ​lethargy,​ ​low​ ​mood​ ​and​ ​headaches​ ​if​ ​sugar​ ​is​ ​not​ ​consumed​ ​in​ ​these amounts.​ ​​ ​Falling​ ​into​ ​the​ ​sugar​ ​addiction​ ​cycle​ ​can​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​a​ ​host​ ​of​ ​health​ ​problems​ ​– obesity,​ ​diabetes,​ ​cardiovascular​ ​disease,​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​poor​ ​sleep.

Excess​ ​glucose​ ​also​ ​causes​ ​inflammation​ ​in​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​and​ ​can​ ​react​ ​with​ ​protein​ ​in​ ​the brain​ ​causing​ ​nerve​ ​cell​ ​membranes​ ​to​ ​become​ ​thicker,​ ​slowing​ ​communication between​ ​nerve​ ​cells​ ​and​ ​affecting​ ​the​ ​way​ ​you​ ​feel.​ ​​ ​Studies​ ​have​ ​found​ ​that​ ​high​ ​sugar consumption​ ​has​ ​been​ ​implicated​ ​in​ ​aggressive​ ​behavior,​ ​anxiety,​ ​hyperactivity, depression,​ ​eating​ ​disorders​ ​and​ ​fatigue.

Dietary​ ​intervention​ ​from​ ​a​ ​Registered​ ​Dietitian​ ​can​ ​help​ ​you​ ​control​ ​your​ ​blood​ ​sugars and​ ​nourish​ ​your​ ​brain.​ ​​ ​Food​ ​is​ ​information​ ​for​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​-​ ​Eat​ ​well​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​well​ ​!​ ​​ ​​ ​To book​ ​at​ ​appointment​ ​with​ ​Rika​ ​Mansingh,​ ​Registered​ ​Dietitian,​ ​call​ ​778-240-5951.​ ​​ ​You can​ ​also​ ​email​ ​Rika​ ​on​ ​​Rika.Mansingh@gmail.com

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