Today’s Western diet relies heavily on foods that are high in sugars and refined carbohydrates, which disrupt our blood sugar levels. These contribute to fat storage and to health problems (inflammation, reduced immunity, premature aging, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases …).
1. Is sugar an essential element for the proper functioning of your body and your brain?
A persistent belief is that sugar is essential to the proper functioning of our brain. Yes and no. All the carbohydrates in our diet (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cakes, sweets, vegetables, fruits) provide glucose after digestion.
Glucose is transported by the blood to the cells that use it to create energy. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the brain and our cells. Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, regulates the level of glucose in the blood. After eating, the blood glucose level raises. Insulin is released to bring it back to a “normal” level.
However, if the blood sugar level rises too fast, the body releases too much insulin, which causes the sugar level to swing back in the opposite direction (hypoglycaemia). Thus, you can feel tired, in a bad mood or hungry. You collapse after the burst of energy. The low blood sugar level signals the brain to increase your cravings for sugar to increase your blood sugar. This keeps you in a vicious circle of sugar addiction.
It is not because the brain feeds on glucose that you have to eat sugars. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, pulses provide more energy and contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre. The brain needs glucose but too much of this energy source can be a bad thing. Overconsumption of sugar is linked to brain-related health problems, such as depression, learning disabilities, memory problems.
2. Should our consumption of sugar depend on the energy needs of each individual?
It is true that our need of carbohydrates (and not sugar) can vary according to each individual (children, adolescents, athletes, elderly, etc). However, we need to think in terms of quality rather than quantity and choose our carbohydrates.
To ensure maximum functioning of all the processes of life, our body is constantly looking for an equilibrium. When this equilibrium is threatened or lost, there is a serious risk to the well-being of the individual. Understanding the benefits of a low-sugar diet and managing your blood sugar levels will free you from sugar cravings, give more energy, improve your sleep and is scientifically proven to reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and cancer.
3. Treat yourself and find sweetness in your life.
We often find comfort and pleasure out of sweet foods. A stressful day, packed with obligations, swallowing up all of our emotions in order to face the day, can lead us to sugar cravings.
We “treat” ourselves with foods instead of addressing what are the causes of our cravings.
I help my clients become aware of what needs to be “fed” and find sweetness in their lives other than sugar. If a person is genuinely satisfied with her life, she probably won’t need sugar or alcohol as a crutch.
So if you think you eat a balanced diet where your body is well nourished, then you can afford occasional sweets. On the other hand, if you feel addicted to sugar, you might consider consulting a specialist to help you get rid of your cravings and address what is really missing from either your diet or your life.
If you are experiencing low energy, sugar cravings or if emotional eating gets in your way, click below to book a COMPLIMENTARY 30-MINUTE CALL with me and I will share some simple steps to get you started.