Happy Monday! Our guest Rick Binder tells us some other factors that come into play when we consume sugar. What can we do to stay off sugar?
It’s Not JUST Sugar!
We’ve talked about the harmful effects sugar has on our immune system, but if that’s all we ever focus on we are missing the bigger picture. Sugar is most certainly harmful, and it plays a significant role in damaging our immune system, but it’s not the only culprit here. Other factors include too much stress, too little exercise and poor sleeping patterns. Each of these contribute toward chronic inflammation, weight gain, oxidative stress and other issues affecting our cellular health.
Lack of Sleep
There have been numerous studies linking poor sleeping habits and insufficient sleep to greater appetites, particularly for sweet and salty foods. A recent study by the University of California at Berkeley provides a more specific explanation of why this is so. “What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified,” said Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience and senior author of the study published in 2013 in Nature Communications. The study found that when deprived of sufficient sleep, MRI scans showed that specific areas of the brain responded much more strongly when the test subjects were shown images of high calorie junk foods. On a positive note, it appears that simply improving the amount and quality of ones sleep can make a significant impact in terms of promoting weight control as it helps to prime the brain mechanisms governing appropriate food choices.
For years researchers have linked high stress levels to overeating and weight gain. Normal levels of stress trigger the adrenal glands to release two hormones, 1) Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and 2) Cortisol. Cortisol is known for increasing appetite as well as triggering the urge to eat. Once a stressful event ends these hormone levels should fall, but with ongoing and persistent stress they sometimes get stuck and these hormones – particularly the Cortisol – remain elevated. Stress seems to have a role in terms of the types of foods we crave. Several studies have shown that physical or emotional stress correlates with cravings for foods higher in fat and sugar.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that processed sugars and other high-glycemic starches increase inflammation, which causes pain, overheating, redness and swelling. In fact, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress is at the root of many deadly diseases. Significantly reducing the stress on and in our bodies is one of the most important things we can do for our health. So much so that I wrote an entire book on the subject. It’s called “The Four Pillars of Cellular Health” and it is available on Amazon, but that’s a story for another day.
To summarize, we of course must be mindful of our sugar intake and do what we can to minimize it as best we can. We must also do our best to get adequate sleep and to rid ourselves of as much stress and inflammation as possible. There are many ways to accomplish this naturally – without the aid of pharmaceutical drugs and their harmful side effects. We will discuss this in more detail in the coming weeks. In the meantime, eat healthy, get some rest and carve out some time for yourself to enjoy this life and escape from the rigors of your everyday routine.