When we eat well, we feel better. Did you know that we also think and perform better? Eating sugar can actually have a negative biological impact on your mind, body and emotions. Here are 5 ways sugar affects your focus, mood, memory, emotional and mental balance, and stress (and recommended foods to feel and perform better!).
According to a recent UCLA study, sugar “forms free radicals in the brain’s membrane, compromising our nerve cells’ ability to communicate”. This causes a “foggy” or “out of it” feeling. The study drew strong connections between sugar intake and a diminishment in how well we remember instructions and when an alcoholic tastes gin. Dopamine, our “reward chemical” spikes and reinforces the desire to have more. When you’re battling an addiction-fueled craving, your train of thought is disrupted, and you can’t be fully focused on the tasks at hand.
More high protein and high fiber foods give us focus throughout the day and help curb sugar cravings. Here are some great options:
When we’re feeling low, it’s hard to get anything done. Studies have shown links to sugar starting cycles of binge eating, dopamine spikes, a physical and emotional crash and then more craving and withdrawal. As a result, we have shorter tempers, lower patience and even depression.
The best way to combat these mood swings is to have steady, regular meals with protein and fiber to keep our insulin levels constant and help us stay satisfied for longer. Try adding these mood-boosting foods instead of sugar:
A high sugar diet affects our cognitive function and performance – and it can ALSO block our memory receptors. According to this study, there are clear links between high fructose (sugar) consumption and memory loss and learning impairment. We will actually have a harder time remembering what others say and making connections between concepts as a result of sugar. Even more unsettling is the research suggesting high sugar consumption has long-term and more severe repercussions, such as links between sugar and Alzheimer’s, where memory is grossly impaired.
Foods to boost your memory are:
Sources of Vitamin E
Sources of Omega 3S
Too much sugar leaves us prone to mood swings as it increases our stores of vitamin B and blocks chromium receptors, both of which are natural emotionally balancing chemicals. This can lead to irritability, anxiety, aggressive behavior and dramatic mental peaks and valleys.
There is more and more evidence of connections between our gut health and brain health. Gut health is contingent on eating more plant based, low-glycemic index foods and avoiding sugar. Sugar feeds bad bacteria in the gut, while vegetables and fermented food feeds healthy bacteria. Striking at its homeostasis, that balances us both physically and mentally.
Healthy foods to help you achieve that inner harmony are:
Stress and food are closely linked. When we feel stressed, our body is flooded with chemicals related to our fight or flight responses. Stress is linked to overeating, weight gain and even obesity. We feel guilty for overeating or not knowing what to eat to help us stay healthy. This causes more underlying stress in our lives.
The best way to curtail this is to eat healthier foods to help us get ahead of our body’s stress cycle. Here are some foods to combat stress and release serotonin without spiking blood sugar levels:
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