We hear ‘don’t’ a lot. Don’t use profane language to a child under 14 in Georgia, don’t give a moose beer in Alaska, don’t commit cannibalism in Idaho (unless it was necessary to survive, in which case, you’ve probably suffered enough), don’t take a nap in a bakery or cheese shop in Illinois, don’t use exploding golf balls in Massachusetts, don’t don’t don’t etc etc etc.
Well, your favorite killjoys at La Jolla Sports Club are here to add to the list. We checked in with La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainer, yoga instructor, graphic designer, author of Kristen’s Korner (great nutritional tips posted by the ladies locker room) and all-around great human, Kristen Forkeutis, to find out her nutritional nemesis. We have some Bad News: it’s sugar.
We already know those donuts and Cadbury Creme Eggs cause weight gain (quote from the link: ‘The really interesting finding is that increasing and decreasing sugar had virtually identical results on weight, in the opposite direction.’) and heart disease (interesting quote from that link: ‘Participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar.’), but have you ever thought about what sugar does to your brain? Kristen pointed us to this Huffington Post article, which really made us stop and think.
With many Americans eating five times the suggested amount of sugar, here are some high / lowlights of the Huffington Post article that might make you review your intake:
Sugar impairs memory and learning skills
A 2012 study on rats, conducted by researchers at UCLA, found that a diet high in fructose (that’s just another word for sugar) hinders learning and memory by literally slowing down the brain. The researchers found that rats who over-consumed fructose had damaged synaptic activity in the brain, meaning that communication among brain cells was impaired.
Sugar may cause or contribute to depression and anxiety
Sugar-rich and carb-laden foods can also mess with the neurotransmitters that help keep our moods stable. Consuming sugar stimulates the release of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. Constantly over-activating these serotonin pathways can deplete our limited supplies of the neurotransmitter, which can contribute to symptoms of depression, according to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, functional medicine expert and author of Why Isn’t My Brain Working?.
Sugar is a risk factor for age-related cognitive decline and dementia
A growing body of research suggests that a sugar-heavy diet could increase risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. A 2013 study found that insulin resistance and blood glucose levels — which are hallmarks of diabetes — are linked with a greater risk for developing neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Sugar creates a vicious cycle of intense cravings
When a person consumes sugar, just like any food, it activates the tongue’s taste receptors. Then, signals are sent to the brain, lighting up reward pathways and causing a surge of feel-good hormones, like dopamine, to be released. Sugar “hijacks the brain’s reward pathway,” neuroscientist Jordan Gaines Lewis explained.
In fact, research has shown that the brains of obese children actually light up differently when they taste sugar, reflecting an elevated “food reward” response. This suggests that their brain circuitry may predispose these children to a lifetime of intense sugar cravings.
Yikes. OK, so now you’re ready to make a change or two. Now what? Luckily Kristen pointed us to this handy article about detoxing from sugar in 10 days. It’s a quick read and will help make a little more sense of the list below.
- Make the decision to detox
- Cold turkey time
- Don’t drink your calories
- Power up the day with protein
- Eat as many of the right carbs as you want
- Fight sugar with fat
- Be ready for emergencies
- Swap distress for de-stress
- Fight inflammation
- Get your ZZZs
OK, that’s it for this post! If your sugar intake is a little much, we hope this article helps. As always, feel free to reach out to your La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainers for advice.
Have you recently won a battle with Sugar? Any tips you’d like to share with your fellow LJSCers? Leave a note below!
Have a great rest of the week / end!
// Your La Jolla Sports Club team