What happens to the brain when you quit sugar?
There's a distinction to be made between refined and natural sugars.
• Sugar may taste delicious, but processed sugars are harmful to your health.
• A diet high in processed, added sugars may cause headaches, fatigue, and inflammation.
• Eliminating sugar from your diet will likely reduce inflammation, increase energy, and enhance your ability to concentrate.
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Sugar is present in many meals, however, it is harmful to our health. It's good to indulge yourself sometimes, but have you ever considered what would happen to your body if you completely stopped consuming sugar?
Sugar is difficult to give up for several reasons: it's tasty, but it also activates opioid receptors in your brain, causing your neurological rewards system to fire up. According to Healthline, sugar helps you feel good emotionally despite the harmful side effects of excessive intakes, such as headaches, energy dumps, and even hormone problems.
Processed sugars, on the other hand, are not the same as the natural sugars found in fruit, honey, and unsweetened milk. Sara Siskind, a certified nutritional health counselor, told INSIDER that refined sugars, also known as sucrose, are highly processed from sugar cane and sugar beets. Natural sugars, on the other hand, are abundant in vitamins and minerals and have no nutritional value.
The human body reacts to processed sweets in a bitter-sweet way, and it's up to you to determine whether it's worth a try.
Baked pastries, bubbly bottles of drink, and even the ostensibly "healthy" packaged nibbles at your desk are almost certainly loaded with added sugars. Sure, the first bite or drink is gratifying, but can you honestly claim you feel especially invigorated or lively when that piece of cake or fizzy syrup is resting in your stomach?
There are more than 50 names and variations of processed sugars in food goods, according to Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and although they may taste nice, they aren't healthy for you.
"The high glycemic index [of processed carbohydrates] may swiftly surge and lower blood sugar levels in the body," Derocha added, "creating a roller-coaster impact on blood glucose." "You'll feel an immediate boost in energy when your blood sugar levels rise. Unfortunately, since such levels are swiftly controlled, an energy or "sugar" collapse often follows the increase, particularly when dealing with additional sugars."
Furthermore, enzymes in the small intestine help the body break down sugar into glucose. Normally, this isn't an issue since glucose from carbs is stored as an energy source that your body may use when needed, but Derocha pointed out that any extra glucose is converted to fat, which can lead to weight gain and obesity if portions aren't controlled.
So, when you quit consuming sugar, what happens to your body?
As difficult as it may be to refrain from ordering an ice-cold cola with your burger or from grazing the candy dish at parties, eliminating sugar from your diet may have a substantial influence on your health. If you're someone who enjoys dessert with a cup of tea after dinner or packs a store-bought granola bar with their lunch every day, Siskind advised that the adjustment could be difficult at first.
If you eat sugar regularly many variables contribute and then quit, you will experience sugar withdrawal symptoms.
"Studies have shown that when individuals quit consuming sugar, the results are identical to when they stop using narcotics," she added. "Exhaustion, headaches, cognitive fog, and irritability are all possible side effects. Some may even have stomach pains."
It's a procedure, in other words.
If your body is addicted to sugar and you go without it, your mood might shift dramatically.
Sugar activates your body's reward system by releasing the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin in the brain, according to Robert Glatter, M.D., an associate professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health.
To put it another way, the more sugar you eat, the better you feel – at least for a while. However, when you stop consuming sugar completely, your body goes through withdrawal, which is unpleasant for both your body and your brain.
"As you begin to reduce your sugar consumption, your body will notice, and you may feel irritable or grumpy, particularly in the first few days," Glatter said.
He went on to say that many individuals suffer weariness, headaches, or even a sense of despair or depression, all of which are telltale signals that your body is adapting to the low amounts of glucose, dopamine, and serotonin. "Your energy will begin to increase after a week or two, and you will feel more lively and less irritated."
Sugar increases skin irritation, therefore the less you consume, the better your complexion will be.
Certain meals, such as processed sweets, have been linked to the development of acne.
Sugar may cause more breakouts, so if you cut it out of your diet, you'll notice a difference in your skin.
High-refined sugar diets (think candy bars, cake, cookies, etc.) may cause excessive insulin spikes, which can cause skin irritation, according to Glatter. As a consequence, elasticity and collagen — the proteins that give your face its plumpness and radiance — are degraded, potentially contributing to premature wrinkling, sagging skin, acne, and rosacea. Reducing your sugar consumption will have the exact opposite effect.
"Reducing your sugar consumption will help enhance your complexion by strengthening elasticity and collagen and lowering inflammatory levels in your skin," Glatter said.
In the long term, eliminating sugar from your diet may enhance the general quality of your sleep.
Breaking up with sugar won't fix your sleep difficulties immediately, but it should help you fall into a deeper slumber in a few weeks, according to Glatter. This is because diets rich in refined sugars limit the quantity of slow-wave sleep (SWS), which consolidates memories and information gained during the day, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the dream phase.
Reduce the number of times you wake up throughout the night by eating less sugar, and your sleep quality will increase overall.
You may lose weight by eliminating sugar from your diet, but there are other factors to consider.
To be clear, sugar does not cause you to gain weight. Sugar consumption in excess might lead to weight gain. Many variables contribute to losing weight, just as several aspects contribute to gaining weight. One of those things is reducing sugar consumption.
"When you limit or remove sugar from your diet, fat accumulation decreases gradually, and you lose weight. This, however, takes time, with the impact usually appearing after one to two weeks "INSIDER spoke with Glatter.
If you're expecting to lose weight quickly by eliminating sugar from your diet, Glatter recommends consuming more protein and sticking to a regular workout plan that includes both cardio and weight training.