The Link Between Sugar & Brain Health

The brain is an energy demanding organ that is fueled by glucose. Have you ever wondered how brain function is impacted by excessive sugars from the standard American diet?

Excessive sugar can impair our cognitive function, mood and even our self-control.  Sugar can also have an addition-like effect on the brain, impacting our ability to control what and how much we eat. This can result in unhealthy weight gain and loss of energy. Keep reading for more information on the impacts of excess sugar plus 7 helpful tips to detox and cleanse your system.


Article At-A-Glance:

  • Americans’ consumption of sugar is sky-high, in large part due to the added sugar in high-glycemic and processed foods.
  • Excess Sugar can be harmful to brain function and also impact your mood and self-control.
  • Learn why you should do a sugar detox and how small steps will help ease you through your journey. Be sure to increase protein, stay hydrated, and when possible, make eating a social event.
  • Good rest could be key to making it through the detox period. Also, planning your meals will help you avoid eating sugar on impulse.
  • On average, sugar cravings only last between 10-14 days. If you can make it through the initial period, eliminating sugar should be much easier going forward.


Impacts of Excess Sugar on the Brain

High-glycemic foods such pretzels, cookies or bread cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly. These type of foods have been found to activate regions of the brain associated with the reward response and provoke more intense feelings of hunger compared to low-glycemic foods such as whole grains, nuts and vegetables. Foods that cause a higher elevation in blood glucose produce a greater addictive drive in the brain.

Excess sugar can be harmful to brain function, resulting in slowed cognitive function and deficits in both memory and attention. Elevated blood glucose negatively impacts blood vessels in the brain and eyes which can lead to many serious health issues. Studies of long-term blood sugar health issues show progressive brain changes leading to deficits in learning, memory, motor speed, and other cognitive functions.

Sugar can also impact our mood. The roller coaster of high blood sugar followed by a crash may accentuate the symptoms of mood disorders. Research has tied heavy sugar consumption to feelings of sadness and anxiety.


Let’s Talk About The Benefits of Detoxing

Making the decision to do a sugar detox may seem or feel impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. You might be wondering how an American living in the 21st century could possibly pull it off. While the thought of Eliminating sugar may not be easy, it can be done. There are some simple tricks you can utilize that can make your sugar-free journey much easier. Read on to learn some easy, practical steps to banish sugar forever, and enjoy higher energy and a healthier life!

Why Is Eliminating Sugar So Hard?

Before we get into practical dietary steps, let’s gain a little perspective on how much sugar is in the American diet. The New York Times recently published an article revealing that 68% of processed foods in American supermarkets have added sugar. The article cited a research study conducted by the University of North Carolina, and said that there are ‘hidden sugars’ in all sorts of foods that we don’t suspect. Everyone knows that cookies and soft drinks contain sugar; many do not realize that sugar is added to ‘High-glycemic foods’ as we discussed above such as; breads, pasta, sauces, fruit juices and even some meat products. So, why is eliminating sugar so hard for us in the U.S.? To put it simply, sugar is in all kinds of foods we’ve been eating for years so our bodies are accustomed to it without even realizing it. But don’t worry, there are several ways to detox and reverse all the sugar you’ve become accustomed to.


Here Are 7 Sugar Detox Tips To Get You Started


1. Increase Your Protein Intake — Not eating enough protein can be a major reason why you feel tired; feeling tired leads to sugar cravings. One of the best ways to stay on track with your sugar detox is to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. Eating healthy foods like nuts, seeds, and beans can help balance your blood sugar and insulin, and leave you with steady energy.


2. When Possible, Eat With Other People — There’s a lot of benefit to eating with others, and if you’re going on a radical sugar detox it can make a big difference. This works on a couple of levels. One: it’s much harder to ‘cheat’ on a diet in front of other people, especially if they know what you’re doing. Secondly, the simple act of eating with others makes the food less important. When we join others for a meal, they become the center of our attention more than the taste of what we’re eating. Plus, just being in the presence of others makes dietary transitions so much easier.


3. Drink A Lot of Water & Stay Hydrated — This is key. Sugar cravings can arise when you are thirsty because the body needs glucose and water to create glycogen. Glycogen, if you don’t know, is a source of energy for your body stored in the liver. Therefore staying hydrated can help you stave off sugar cravings. In general, drinking water is one of the best things you can do to maintain a steady energy level. If you keep a bottle of water handy, you will be much less likely to reach for a sugary snack.


4. Get Quality & Restful Sleep — The desire for sugar is connected to your energy levels, and your energy all starts with sleep. Getting enough quality sleep will give you a clear mind and emotional resilience. If you don’t have a consistent sleep routine, having one will help you breeze through your sugar detox. 


5. Have A Plan and Stick To It — Any time you want to change a habit, having a plan is crucial. When you’re in the midst of a sugar detox, you don’t want to be making last-minute decisions about what to eat. When you’re tired or run down, you will be much more likely to just eat whatever is convenient. Planning out your meals in advance will give you an edge when it comes to sticking to the detox.


6. Remember, There’s Light At The End Of The Tunnel — It may be a little hard to imagine, but if you stick with it there will soon be time when you no longer crave sugar. On average, sugar cravings tend to last on average 10 days to 2 weeks for most people. That’s really not long at all. As you go through the hardest part of your sugar detox, focus on making it through to two weeks. If you can go that long, the momentum will be on your side from there.


7. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself — If you’ve decided on doing a sugar detox after reading this article, you should applaud yourself! You are doing something that a vast majority of Americans are not. Even a day without sugar is a lot for most people. In light of that fact, be sure to be patient with yourself and celebrate the small victories each day during your journey.


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