We all get it, that little niggle you get standing at the checkout…the culprit positioned right there… SUGAR.

We all know that maybe we should cut back on sugar, but what impact does sugar actually have on your body, more specifically, your brain?

We have to acknowledge that even if you could (which is impossible) you wouldn’t want to cut out all intake of sugar. Furthermore, we have to acknowledge that not all sugar is created equal. The effect of sugar from a soft drink, orange juice and an orange all has different impacts on your body.

Here are some interesting affects on the brain that have been studied over the last few years, and I am sure there are far more affects that I have not covered.

It creates a vicious cycle of intense cravings. (READ MORE)

By flooding your body with feel good hormones, such as Dopamine and Serotonin, sugar hijacks your brain’s reward system, making you crave it more and more. While stimulating the brain's reward system with a piece of chocolate now and then is pleasurable, and has a minimal impact on your health, by over-activating this reward system it leads to loss of control, cravings and an increased tolerance to sugar.

Impairs memory and learning skills. (READ MORE)

Researchers have found that rats that had too much sugar (fructose) had damaged synaptic activity in the brain – meaning that communication among brain cells was impaired. The synaptic activity is vital for memory and learning skills. The mechanism behind this could be that eating too much fructose could block insulin’s ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar for energy. This is a requirement for processing thoughts and emotions.

It may cause or contribute to Anxiety and Depression. (READ MORE)

As mentioned before, consuming sugar floods your body with feel-good hormones, one of which is Serotonin (a chemical in your body that plays a large role in regulating mood). Constantly over activating this pathway can deplete your limited supplies of this neurotransmitter (Serotonin), which can contribute to symptoms of depression.

It is a risk factor for age related cognitive decline and dementia. (READ MORE)

 A 2013 study found that insulin resistance and blood glucose levels, hallmarks of diabetes, are linked with a greater risk for developing neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's. 

There is some good news, by cutting back on sugar you can make a change to your health in as little as 10 days, as shown in an article recently featured on our Facebook page  (Cutting Sugar Improves Children’s Health in Just 10 Days).

3 Ways to decrease your sugar intake:

-            Be Aware … Realise where sugar hides

A common alternative drink to soft drinks would be for someone to buy Juice; you might even get Naturally Hand Squeezed Orange juice. How much sugar would you guess is in even the most natural orange juice? The answer is very similar to what you would find in the soft drinks. Fruit normally comes with a whole bunch of fibre that fills you up, where a glass of juice has no or minimal fibre. What this leads to is that if you eat an orange you would be satisfied and full, but if you just have the juice part from those oranges you might consume the juice of 3-5 oranges. In the end you end up consuming 3-5 times the amount of sugar you would have had compared to if you simply had the fruit instead. I am not saying to never have juice, I myself enjoy a juice every now and then, just be AWARE; perhaps reach or a whole orange instead.

-            Make your own salad sauce (10 DIY Salad Dressings)

I love eating salads, but lets face it, just a bunch of leafy greens can sometimes get a bit boring. Make sure you use a low sugar option when trying to make your salads more interesting.

-            The Halving Principle

This is something that I used a few years ago with my mother. If you drink a hot drink regularly through the day and add sugar, this step is for you. My mother used to drink 3-4 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of tea, 3-5 times a day. This was a hard step for her, and she didn’t like me very much for a few weeks. Now, a few years on with no sugar in her tea she can’t imagine that she used to have that much sugar. 

The principle is pretty simple, just half the sugar you put in your favourite drink (Tea/Coffee) every 2-4 weeks, depending on how fast you want to move. You will know when you are ready do go without any sugar.

Like any habit that you would like to change it might not be that easy to start with, but give it enough time and it has the potential to change your health in as little as 10 days and who knows, it could have the potential to change your life.

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...Dr. Ryno