On Sugars


Recently I came across an interesting Insider article What happens to your body and brain when you stop eating sugar, which many of us are indulged in despite its harmful health effects. Giving up sugar is not easy, as Dr. Eric Pham, M.D. at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California, explains “giving up the sweet stuff is challenging since it’s found in unsuspecting places, like veggie burgers, tomato sauce, and crackers. But if you do nix added sugars from your diet, your body will benefit almost immediately.”

There’s a reason why sugar is hard to shake: for one, it’s delicious, but sugar also causes the opioid receptors in your brain to activate, which triggers your neurological rewards system to flare up. In other words, sugar makes you feel good emotionally, despite the negative side effects excess consumption can lead to, like headaches, energy crashes, and even hormonal imbalances.

Healthline (source: Insider)

Insider: Sugar on our brain and body

  • There’s a difference between refined sugars and natural sugars.
  • Sugar might taste good to you, but processed sugars aren’t good for you.
  • Eating a lot of refined, added sugars can lead to headaches, low energy levels, and inflammation.
  • Cutting sugar out of your diet will likely decrease inflammation, boost your energy levels, and improve your ability to focus.

Source: Insider

“The high glycemic index [of processed sugars] can spike blood sugars in the body fast and drop them quickly as well, leading to a kind of roller coaster effect on blood sugars. As blood sugar levels rise, you’ll experience a quick increase in energy. Sadly, because those levels become regulated quickly, an energy or “sugar” crash is not far behind the spike, especially when dealing with added sugars.”

– Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (source: Insider)

Effects of stopping sugar consumption

Derocha told Insider that omitting sugar completely have a significant impact on our health and a rough transition period. “Studies have shown that [when someone stops eating sugar] there are similar effects as when people get off drugs. You may experience exhaustion, headaches, brain fog and irritability.  Some people even have gastrointestinal distress.”

Sugar releases the feel-good hormones — dopamine and serotonin — in the brain, activating your body’s reward system. As you begin to cut back on sugar intake, the body begins to sense this, and you may feel cranky or irritable, especially in the first few days.

– Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health (source: Insider)

Dr. Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon based in California, told Men’s Health that though there will rough few days, but there’s a lot of good stuff going on inside your body.

Insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose, drops to become more stable. You won’t go through the cycle of sugar highs and crashes. Initially, you’ll feel tired and lethargic, but that will pass within a few days. Adrenaline will increase and help break down glycogen, or sugar, stored in your body. This will be released into your bloodstream pretty quickly

– Dr. Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon based in California (source: Men’s Health)

Dr Quebbemann explains, after quieting sugar one may feel energetic, calm and focused. However, most doctors recommend eating healthy complex carbohydrates, even though they are broken down into sugar, this is an entirely normal and healthy process, he adds.

  • In fact, omitting added sugars while eating complex carbs keeps your insulin levels healthy.
  • You don’t get the headaches. You don’t get the crashes. You get a consistent level of energy
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