This Is Your Brain on Sugar
New Study Spotlights Sugar's Effect on the Brain... and It's Not Pretty
As promised, here is your inaugural issue of Health Wire.
My name is Ken Swearengen, and I'll be the Senior Editor on your journey to a lifetime full of healthy living.
Food and fitness are my life -- I'm an International Sports Medicine Association certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Sports Nutrition Consultant, and an avid raquetball player (I have yet to find a more fun way to work up a sweat!).
Together with Managing Editor Jimmy Mengel, the Health Wire team and I will bring you cutting-edge articles that will keep you informed of the latest and greatest advances in food, fitness, memory & mood enhancers, sexual health, and much, much more...
We'll keep you updated on anything and everything you need to know in order to take your health back into your own hands.
Enjoy today's article.
- Ken Swearengen
What's one of the hardest parts about dieting?
Figuring out which one to follow...
Anyone who has ever looked to shed waistline inches via dieting knows there are hundreds of different plans and programs to choose from.
Your wife may have put you on the Atkins Diet, or maybe you've heard a coworker raving about the Zone. You need only take a walk through the diet and health section of a bookstore to get a glimpse of the hundreds of options to help you reach your weightloss goals.
And there's one thing almost all diet plans have in common...
Sugar Is Bad News
While most nutritionists and dietitians agree that too much sugar can ruin your attempt to lose weight, it turns out there may be bigger reasons to curb your cravings.
A recent study by researchers at UCLA has found high doses of high-fructose corn syrup (the most popular sugar additive in foods) in rats is linked to reduced cognitive performances.
The study involved setting two sets of rats loose in a maze...
One set was given a high dose of sugar beforehand, while the second set of rats was given a placebo.
The group that was given the real sugar had a harder time navigating the maze than the control group.
Granted, rats aren't humans. So if the results of the UCLA study aren't reason enough for you to avoid sweets, there are other reasons you should be concerned about sugar's impact on your brain...
- "A research group at the University of Wisconsin found that the brain may react to excess refined sugars found in food as if they were a virus or bacteria. The resulting immune response may cause cognitive deficits such as those associated with Alzheimer's disease." — Psychology Today
- If you have any form of diabetes, excess sugar intake can be even more detrimental. One recent study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, concluded "older people with early problems with blood sugar regulation might also show early signs of impaired thinking."
- Sugar over-indulgence is linked to an increase in stress hormones that can last up to five hours. Are those two minutes of cupcake-induced bliss really worth feeling horrible for the next five hours?
The average American now consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar per week.
According to the National Council on Strength and Fitness, the average intake 100 years ago was less than 10 pounds per year.
With a correlated rise in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, it's hard not to implicate sugar's role in America's declining health...
Easy ways to cut excess sugar out of your diet
The quickest (and most likely easiest) way to reduce your excess sugar intake is to remove any and all sugar-heavy beverages from your refrigerator. This includes the obvious cans of soda and pop and the not-so-obvious fruit juices that often contain added sugar that make them as sugary as their carbonated cousins.
Next, avoid or purge your cupboards of sugary baked goods, dessert foods, breakfast cereals — and even the table sugar in your pantry.
If your sweet tooth is calling, substitute a piece of your favorite fruit instead.
Need to add a sweet touch to your cereal? Fruit again.
Take your coffee or tea black, and you'll soon become a connoisseur with an appreciation for the subtle tastes in these two beverages.
On a similar note, avoid processed foods — especially ones that contain a lot of sugar. Prepackaged "low fat" foods often contain greater amounts of sugar to make up for the lack of taste caused by the reduction in fat.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 100-150 calories of added sugar in your diet (non-fruit based sources). That works out to be between 6 to 9 teaspoons per day.
For quicker weight loss — and your better health — you should really avoid added sugar all together.
If you still can't live without your daily scoop of ice cream or post-dinner slice of cheesecake, limit your servings frequency to just one a day, and keep it small.
You can start to wean yourself from your sugar addiction by cutting your normal sugar binge to half of what you normally eat...
Continue to cut down the serving size and frequency until you're able to be content with sweets just one day a week.
Or better yet, switch to a half cup of sweet, antioxidant-rich blueberries or a ripe nutrient-rich banana to get your sweets fix — and add a few more years to your life.
If your sweet tooth still gets the better of your attempts to lose weight, fret not. In the next couple weeks the Health Wire team will fix you up with alternative recipes to get your sweet-tooth fix in the healthiest ways possible.
Yours in health,