Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Health: Sugar I Just Can't Quit You - How To Say NO

Sugar Detox: Hype or Hope?

   Sugar detox is the hottest trend, with three-week diets promising to rid you of your dependence on sinister sweets so you can finally lose weight.  Researchers think a pattern of withholding and binging -- not sugar itself -- may lead to addictive-like behavior and even brain changes. Sugar influences the same "feel-good" brain chemicals -- including serotonin and dopamine -- as illicit drugs. But scientists aren't quite ready to lump sugar in with heroin.

   Whether you call it an addiction, an eating disorder, or simply a bad habit, there are signs of an unhealthy use of sugary foods. You may lose control and eat more than you planned. You may have withdrawal symptoms when you skip your regular cookie "fix." "You can get low blood sugar symptoms, which would include a little bit of anxiety, shakiness, jitteriness…a cold sweat," says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman for the ADA.

   Sugar fuels every cell in the brain and influences brain chemicals, too. And overloading on sugary foods may alter the brain receptors that regulate how much we eat. In laboratory studies, rats that binged on sugar had brain changes that mimicked those of drug withdrawal. In humans, just seeing pictures of milkshakes triggered brain activity similar to what's seen in drug addicts -- and that activity was stronger in women with a high food-addiction score than in women who didn't report addictive eating.
   When you eat cake, the sugar in that treat -- called a simple carbohydrate -- is quickly converted to glucose in your bloodstream. Your blood sugar levels rise and spike when simple carbs are eaten alone, as when you grab a candy bar mid-afternoon. All simple carbs are absorbed quickly, most especially the processed, concentrated sugars found in syrup, soda, candy, and table sugar. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy products -- but fiber and protein slow absorption and provide wholesome nutrients.

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