Do you find that you can’t get through the day without a sugary snack?
You may be one of many people who are “addicted” to sugar. Signs of sugar addiction include: irritability, headaches, mood swings and insomnia. Sugar addiction is, in part, a by-product of sugar’s purity – the body is not suited to accommodate this level of refinement. Simple sugars – found in white table sugar, corn syrup, fructose, honey, white flour or any other super-refined carbohydrate- are refined to the point that digestion is practically superfluous.
What Occurs Internally After Consuming Sugar?
When you consume simple sugars, they are passed quickly into the bloodstream. Blood sugar levels skyrocket, and you experience a lift in energy. But that feeling of increased energy and mental alertness is temporary. As most of us can confirm, sugar highs lead to sugar crashes. And, when that buzz wears off, the body cries out for more sugar. This dangerous blood sugar roller-coaster ride sets people up for future health problems, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Simply providing the body with more sugar does not address the root problem.
Sugar is an Antidepressant of Sorts
Some of the underlying causes for sugar cravings include: low endorphin levels, hypoglycemia, endocrine imbalances, candida overgrowth and nutritional deficiencies. In addition, sugar is also an antidepressant of sorts. Consumption of sugar triggers the release of the brain chemical serotonin, which elevates mood and alleviates depression. Sugar cravings are often a misguided attempt by the body to increase serotonin levels in the system and thus elevate mood. The good news is that there are many other foods that increase serotonin levels without setting you up for long term health consequences like sugar.
Exiting the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster
Withdrawing gradually from sugar is recommended as quitting cold turkey can lead to restlessness, nervousness, headaches and depression. A first step to get off the blood sugar roller coaster is to increase the amount of complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole grains and legumes) and protein in your diet – these take longer to digest and lead to a steady increase in blood sugar levels that decline gradually over time. Contact your Naturopathic Doctor to customize a nutritional plan for you!
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Christina Bjorndal, B.Comm, ND, graduated from UBC in 1990 with Bachelor of Commerce Degree with honours. She was Valedictorian of her graduating class. She completed her Doctorate in naturopathic medicine from CCNM in 2005. She is a specialist in Canada in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, OCD and schizoaffective disorders. Having overcome many challenges in the sphere of mental health, Dr. Chris is a gifted motivational speaker on mental health and shares how to overcome barriers in life and to encourage others to achieve their full potential. She is currently completing a book on mental health titled “Beyond the Label: Moving from the stigma and shame”