Choosing Your Sugar by: Dr Jomel Bajar, PT, DPT, MS

On stressful days like workdays or examination week, “sweets” like ice cream always seems like a good idea. It is delicious, comes in different varieties, and is affordable which makes it an instant favorite for people who need a feel-good quick fix. People always go for these treats because foods that are high in sugar like ice cream trigger the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good hormone. Afterall, who does not want to feel good? However, recent research shows that too much of these high in sugar treats is not all good for you and can in fact, be harmful.

After we eat, insulin is released in our bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that allows our body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates that wh eat (rice, bread, pasta, etc). We use that sugar for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps our blood sugar level from getting too low or too high. However, eating too much food with high sugar concentration causes blood sugar to act like roller coaster ride, hence, affects our mood. Eating refined sugar destabilize our blood glucose level.

Sugar rush is an experience of high energy after eating or drinking a considerable amount of sugar in a short period of time, makes your body work hard to get back to normal levels, which leaves you feeling drained, foggy, irritable, and tense. This in turn adversely affects all other hormonal processes in the body, including the production of happy brain chemicals, the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Sugar also slows our ability to respond to stress, which can exacerbate our anxiety and prevents you from realizing the root of your stress.

Another part that your sugar consumption affects is your gut. Your gut plays an important part in your mental health and emerging research shows that eating sugar can influence the microorganisms living in it. The microbiome, which is a community of bacteria that lives in your digestive tract plays an important part in your metabolic, immune and nervous system. These microbes are influenced by nutrition and the microbes have a huge influence on your emotional behavior and how you respond to stress. When you eat sweets, for example, the sugar fills up the microbiome, which triggers a series of inflammatory molecular reactions that feeds back to the central nervous system, causing inflammation in the brain. This inflammation messes with your neurotransmitters which then leads to anxiety. Eating too much sugar decrease a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which also helps in the development of depression and anxiety.

Processed sugar is addictive like a drug. The idea of quitting cold turkey can be scary, especially for people who experience panic attacks. Plus, withdrawing from it also can cause serious side effects which involves anxiety, irritability, confusion, and fatigue. So, it is advisable to take things one step a