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