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Sugar and The Body – The Harmful Effects of Using Sugar to Improve Mood

Most people can’t deny the amazing rush and instant mood improvement they get after eating a delicious treat full of sugar. A person is feeling that sudden burst of energy and happiness because of the abundant amount of serotonin “flying” through their synapses. Although this is a great feeling, people don’t usually prepare themselves for the crash that they will endure later. Furthermore, people don’t think of the effect that sugar has on their body in the long term.

Over the past 50 years, the consumption of added sugars has tripled worldwide. Sugar consists of 15% of an average person’s daily calorie intake. Per the World Health Organization, our daily intake should be 5% of our daily calories. We live in a world where added sugars are cheaper, easily available and makes foods sell better (because they taste better). If people had a better understanding of what sugar does to their bodies, they might second guess eating that tempting treat full of sugar.

Sugar, just like heroin and cocaine, quickly stimulates pleasure centers in the brain, which is why it is understandable a person would choose that tasty treat over a healthier choice. What people don’t always think about though, is the crash that occurs later and the excess cortisol and insulin they are using up in the long-run.

When someone grabs that candy bar, they notice the “quick fix” good feeling they get, and, as time passes, they also notice the fatigue that comes when sugar levels drop. Yet, people don’t always attribute this fatigue or mental fog to the sugary treat they just ate – which leads to grabbing another sugar filled snack once the fatigue kicks in. If sugar intake becomes a routine, medical conditions like hypoglycemia and type II diabetes may occur.

When we consume sugars, insulin is released into the bloodstream to direct those sugars away from the bloodstream and into the muscles and organs. When our blood sugar levels go too high, insulin must be secreted into the bloodstream by the pancreas, so blood glucose levels go back into optimal range. With excessive sugar intake, the pancreas can secrete too much insulin into the bloodstream, which would drop glucose levels to a below optimal range. When this happens, cortisol is released from the adrenal glands, bringing blood sugar back to normal levels. Overtime, insulin and cortisol hormones can diminish, leading to hypoglycemia and then to type II diabetes.

As tempting as that tasty treat can be, the consequences, in the short-term and long-term, can be very detrimental to a person’s health. Is that energizing, good feeling in the short term worth the fatigue, mental fog, and health risks in the long-run? It would be difficult to avoid all sugars, but 3 things you can try include:

  1. Monitor the amount of sugar you eat.

  2. Choose snacks and treats high in protein or fiber that will give you lasting energy

  3. Eat more frequent meals throughout the day so you are less likely to need a sugar filled “pick me up” to give you energy.

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