Could our Brains Be Wired for Sugar?
Sure there’s a big and mounting case against sugar. We’re each being encouraged to lower it or take it out. Don’t add that extra into your coffee or don’t choose that piece of fruit it’s higher in sugar than other alternatives. Never before in the history of mankind have we needed to lower blood sugar. It was recently when we started consuming almost 72 pounds of sugar each year. Yup, sugar intake all adds up.
Here’s the truth. We have a primitive need for sugar. Before food was placed on supermarket shelves, restaurants, cafes and lunch menus, we had to go and find it all for ourselves. Our brains are naturally wired to seek ripe, seasonal foods that are naturally sweeter. The same wiring lets us know when a food is spoiled or if it’s poisonous! Sweetness in food was a marker for edibility in primitive times.
While so many diseases are being blamed on sugar – diabetes, cancer, autoimmunity, metabolic syndrome, hormonal issues – with good reason. Sugar has been shown to have a few pluses: stimulating appetite to regain weight, or lowering stress levels for a better night’s sleep. However, that isn’t across the board. Some of us have to avoid sugar and make sure to consume a high (good) fat snack before bed so we’re not waking in the middle of the night from a hypoglycemic episode. The fact simply stated, sugar is complicated. It affects each of us differently!
Sugar and our Daily Lives
However, the one thing that remains the same across the board is that excess sugar is toxic. Note the word excess. It’s toxic when it’s no longer balanced. There’s another problem. It’s not just that we’re eating too much, it’s also that, sugar isn’t just sugar . We’re living busy lives. This means our stress levels are flooding our bodies with more blood glucose.
The one thing we each have in common to do is our blood sugar regulation systems. Blood glucose is controlled by three systems in the body: two to raise it, namely insulin and cortisol; one to lower it, glycogen. That’s twice as many to raise our blood sugar as to lower! Sugar is the preferred fuel of our muscles and our brain. Our bodies are wired to encourage its use, to raise our blood glucose to make it as readily available as needed.
Also we can make sugar from other food macronutrients – fats and proteins – an inherent capability of each of our bodies. It’s just that we’ve flooded our bodies with sugar that these systems have become null and void. If you’re body is trained as it’s meant to, to be fat burner you can also easily burn sugar. So it all boils down to your body. What type of burner are you? Are you a slave to food, eating every couple of hours, constantly snacking, hangry when you miss a meal or are made to wait longer for a meal? Or perhaps you’re a fat burner, with good amounts of healthy fats in each meal, that your body is readily able to digest and use, alongside pastured proteins like grass fed meats, where you’ll easily go more than a couple of hours if not missing a meal without stressing over where your next meal is coming from.
How Much Sugar Should You Consume?
It’s true. We need sugar but we eat too much. How do you know what’s too much for you and how your body deals with sugar? Here’s some things can do to start today:
Just cut out the sugar, whether you call it a detox or not. Do it for three weeks. This is the time it takes to form a habit and replace the cells of your stomach lining so they’ll be ready to pull the good nutrients from your nutrient dense meals. In addition, the bad bugs in your colon (we’re actually outnumbered 10000:1 by our bugs) thrive on sugar. So you’ll be doing your immune health a big favor too. But what exactly are you cutting out? It’s added sugar of course, the white stuff, but also honey, maple syrup and all the sweeteners. Don’t eat bread, pasta, rice, legumes. This is a good time to try Paleo if you haven’t. A Paleo Meal Plan can help get you there too. It’s also a good habit to try to destress at this point in time. Remember, stress raises blood glucose levels.
Eat Your Macronutrients!
Make sure you eat each macronutrient at each meal. Each meal should include carbs, proteins and fats. Carbs don’t mean bread, rice or pasta. We’re talking about the leafy green carbs. Include veggies at every meal, even for breakfast. Your liver, now relieved of the excess sugar work, will thank you for the fiber and phytonutrients.
The amount of sugar we eat these days is most certainly in excess. But it’s important to remember that sugars are an essential part of our body’s makeup. It’s up to you to see how sugar is affecting your body and that goes from your next meal to the stress levels in your life or the sleep quality you’re getting.