Would you like to lose weight, but have difficulty avoiding sugary snacks and deserts? Are you moody and difficult to get along with? Is your energy minimal at best? Do you feel like falling asleep after a meal? All these problems can be connected to problems with blood sugar. A good point has been made by Jonathan Wright,M.D. that our bodies really are not equipped to handle the likes of a bear claw, maple bar or “blizzard”. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too?
Let’s take a look at what simple sugar really does to us and how to deal with it. When we eat sugar, our blood sugar raises in a quick pattern. Since the blood sugar is beyond that needed for normal functioning, the body tries to put the rest into storage for later use. It does this by secreting insulin, produced by the pancreas. Insulin tells the cells to “open the door” and let sugar come in to storage. Unfortunately, some of the receptors on the doors to our cells have become rusty and don’t hear the message of the insulin. This stimulates the body to produce even more insulin until a threshold is reached when the message is “heard” and the door open, sugar goes into storage. Unfortunately, now there is considerable insulin out there, so the message persists, more and more sugar goes into storage, and the blood sugar drops. What this means, is that the level of sugar in the blood (the fuel to maintain the body) is too low, like running a car without gasoline. (Or electricity). The result is actual lose of adequate functioning in certain brain centers, such as the upper brain, which deals with complex functions, and decision making. The lower brain, which is involved with “survival and emotions “takes over. I liken this to a well behaved gentleman opening the door for people, totally gracious, turning into a “Mr. Hyde”, pushing people out of the way to get to food, with total loss of manners.
The body interprets a low blood sugar as an emergency, and responds with an increase in adrenaline. When this happens, the heart races, people can become anxious, sweaty nervous, and the second adrenal response is cortisol secretion. Essentially the adrenals are saying,”Hey an emergency is going on out there, let’s store up some food!” Cortisol stimulates calories to be stored as fat, usually located around the midsection.
Low blood sugar causes bad moods, fatigue, and can awaken you at night with bad dreams (from your limbic system). This usually occurs at 2-3:00 am. Sound familiar?
One more thing to note in regards to insulin; too much can cause inflammation and damage to arteries, which stimulates the formation of plaque.
All right, you can see how eating sugary foods may not be the best for you, but darn it, it is everywhere and tastes so good. There may be some answers for those of you going through the pain and separation of a maple bar. First of all, there are foods that do not even require insulin to be processed! Proteins, most veggies, and fats do not require insulin; therefore, they stabilize your blood sugar. Just think no more ups and downs, sugar or food cravings, less inflammation and damage to the arteries, more energy, and weight loss. How can you beat that?
I am recommending patients check into the latest “craze” in the diet recommendations, which actually is eating as humans did years ago, the way their system was made to handle foods, the Paleo diet. There are plenty of books on it, but basically it is meat, fish, poultry, seafood, veggies, nuts and seeds, fresh fruit, the same things you have been hearing that are so good for you for a long time. The Mediterranean diet is also commendable.
All right, what about those lovely deserts? I have recently discovered a book called Paleo Deserts by Jane Barthelemy. WHAT?? How can there be paleo deserts? Jane has taken the difficult task of finding sugar substitutes to use for even cakes, puddings, pies and cookies! Many of the recipes are based on using a chicory root product, Just Like Sugar, which is not a sugar, has fiber, no calories, and may prove to be a great substitute for our occasional indulgences. I encourage patients to check out Jane’s website, JanesHealthyKitchem.com for recipes and more information. (It helps if you Like her on facebook and Like her website. I am sure you will, I feel she is doing some ground breaking work for the health of many individuals.