We’re sure you are well aware that there is often mixed messaging regarding foods and recommended diets. And because of that, you may have found it difficult to conclude what is the best eating lifestyle for your body. Are carbs good or bad? Should you be scared of cholesterol? Is it better to drink diet drinks over sugar ones?
The answer for many dietary questions is varied on the individual’s unique ability to process certain foods or to their food sensitivities. However, this is one thing that is common across the board and it’s how the brain responds to sweets.
There are several sweetener options on the market: sugar, splenda, sweet-n-low, equal, and the more natural sweeteners such as stevia, xylitol or erythritol. So, if your goal is to lose weight, are sugar substitutes the best solution? The truth is, any time you put a chemical into your body, you are at risk for adverse side effects. As far as artificial sweeteners are concerned, you run the risk for impaired cognition, worsened memory, weight gain or even mood issues. The reason being that artificial sweeteners not only interfere with the brain’s neural pathways and production of serotonin (the “happy” hormone), but they can also affect your stomach and gut health. We’re learning more every day about the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut—something we call the “microbiome.” It’s like a little community in there, and the more good bacteria, the better. Unfortunately, it seems that artificial sweeteners can disrupt that community. Studies show that they alter the population of bacteria in our intestines, enhancing the populations of those bacteria that help turn food into fat.
With these facts, you may be convinced that you need to stock up on all the natural sweeteners. But before you rush to the grocery store, you should know how your brain responds to these sweeteners, too. When your taste buds are introduced to actual sugar, a complex cascade of events take place in your brain, ultimately releasing dopamine which is a neurotransmitter commonly associated with reward and pleasure. Yet, the brain is not fooled when you decide to start substituting. Suddenly, the sense of reward is lessened leaving your brain on the search for “the real deal.” Yes, that means that less sugar (or sugar substitutes) could potentially have you reaching for more sugar – yikes!
Other startling facts include:
• Both sugar and substitutes can lead to an increase in insulin response to glucose, which over time can have an effect on glucose metabolism and/or cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can then lead to diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.
• Sugar is linked to estrogen. And while estrogen is crucial for a woman’s health, too much estrogen can cause a host of unwanted side effects such as hair loss, depression or anxiety, inability to fall or stay asleep, increased PMS symptoms and much more.
So, what’s the solution? Well, we recommend first allowing your body to get out of the habit of craving sugar. This can be done through the removal of sugar (see sugar challenge). After you’ve assisted your body in the healthy release of insulin, the utilization of glucose, the balancing of healthy bacteria in your gut and craving reduction, you can look at sweets as simply a treat! Because artificial sweeteners are considered chemicals (or toxins), we suggest using the more natural sweeteners in small amounts, such as stevia, Monk fruit, erythritol or xylitol.
If you’re ready to give yourself a reset and be a healthier version of yourself, then download the complimentary sugar challenge today!