Tag: Sugar

Why Sugar Makes Us Sleepy

Consider the orexin system. Secreted by a small cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus, orexin is a neuropeptide that regulates an astonishing array of mental properties, from sleepiness to hunger.

People with chronically low levels of orexin suffer from narcolepsy and obesity; many also have cataplexy, which occurs when the experience of strong emotions triggers a sudden weakening of skeletal muscles.

Studies have shown that injecting mice with orexin increases metabolism, largely because it makes the animals more active.




The reverse is also true: low levels of orexin make people feel rundown and tired. This helps explain the mechanics of sleep deprivation, as keeping monkeys awake for extended periods all but silences their orexin cells.

In many respects, orexin acts like an internal gas pedal, as even slight twitches in the system can dramatically shift levels of activity.

The reason the orexin system is so important is that it links the needs of the body to the desires of the mind.

Several studies have demonstrated that the intake of sugar can decrease the activity of orexin cells, which is probably why we want to nap after a carb heavy lunch.

This phenomenon also begins to explain the downward spiral of obesity triggered by our warped modern diet.

Because we eat lots of refined sugars, washing down Twinkies with cans of Coke, we continually reduce levels of orexin in the brain, which then reduces levels of physical activity.

In other words, we get fat and sleepy simultaneously. However, not every food has such perverse consequences.

It’s long been recognized that meals high in protein are both more filling and less exhausting, which is why we’re always being told to snack on almonds and follow the Zone Diet, with its balance of carbs, protein and fat.

Although the biological mechanism behind this dietary wisdom has always been unclear, that’s beginning to change – we finally understand why consuming protein can be an effective weight loss tool.

The answer returns us to orexin.

According to a new paper in Neuron led by scientists at the University of Cambridge, consuming foods high in protein can increase the activity of orexin neurons.

This, in turn, leads to increased wakefullness and bodily activity, helping us burn off the calories we just consumed.

Furthermore, eating protein in conjunction with glucose – adding almonds to Frosted Flakes, in other words – can inhibit the inhibitory effects of sugar on orexin. The sweetness no longer makes us tired.

The researchers demonstrated this effect in a number of ways. They began in situ, showing that clumps of orexin cells in a petri dish got excited when immersed in a solution of amino acids.

Then, they moved on to in vivo experiments, studying the impact of an egg white slurry of live animals.

This protein meal not only increased orexin activity in the brain, but also led to a dramatic surge in locomotor activity, as the animals began scurrying around their cage. The effect persisted for several hours.

These experiments also document, at a biochemical level, why the modern American diet is such a catastrophic mess.

The typical supermarket is filled with processed foods where the only relevant “nutrient” is some form of sweetener.

While such snacks are unfailingly cheap and tasty, they also lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar and a reduction in orexin activity.

We eat them for the energy boost, but the empty calories in these foods make us tired and sad instead.

And so we keep on swilling glucose, searching for a pick-me-up in all the wrong places.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Is There A Healthier Ways To Eat Dessert?

Sticking with a healthy eating plan is hard work. There is no way around that, but for many it means giving up the foods that they love the most.

But, you don’t have to do that! If you are limiting yourself so much that healthy eating becomes more of a hindrance than a help, then your good habits won’t last long.

So what does this mean? You can still eat dessert– and enjoy it! Learn some smart substitutions to make your dessert a healthy part of your day.




The key to including dessert is to enjoy that sweet treat without overloading on calories, fat, and sugar.

Desserts can often make it hard to maintain a healthy weight. But who wants to give up their favorite foods? Willpower is hard to fight against.

As with many things in life, moderation is key, so you’ll need to stop yourself before you overindulge. Try sensible portions; you can eat 1 slice of pie and still be in your calorie range for the day.

Not every chocolate cake or banana nut muffin is created equal. Look for things without a lot of butter, nuts, or creamy frosting.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

High Sugar Diets Linked To Heightened Depression Risk In Men

doughnuts

Millions of sweet-toothed British men could be making themselves anxious and depressed by consuming too much sugar, a study suggests.

Scientists found that men who consumed more than 67g of sugar per day – the equivalent of two regular cans of coca-cola – increased their risk of mood disorders by more than a fifth compared with those with an intake of less than 39.5g.

Since the average British man has a 68.4g per day sugar habit, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey published in 2013, the findings do not bode well for the mental health of the UK male population.




The study ruled out the possibility that the results can be explained by unhappy men comforting themselves with sugary treats.

Lead researcher Dr. Anika Knuppel, from University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health, said: “High sugar diets have a number of influences on our health but our study shows that there might also be a link between sugar and mood disorders, particularly among men.”

”There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

There is increasing evidence for the physical damage sugar has on our health. Our work suggests an additional mental health effect.”

depressed

For reasons that are unclear, the study which looked at thousands of civil servants of both sexes found no link between sugar intake and new mood disorders in women.

The findings are based on data from Whitehall II, a major long-term investigation into physical and mental health problems encountered by people working at different levels of the UK civil service.

Sugar consumption was compared with rates of common mental disorders in more than 5,000 men and 2,000 women between 1983 and 2013.

Participants were placed into three groups according to their daily sugar intake. After five years, men in the top group were 23 per cent more like to have developed a common mental disorder such as depression or anxiety than those in the bottom group.

sugar

The top tier men consumed more than 67g of sugar per day and the bottom group less than 39.5g.

British adults consume roughly double recommended levels of added sugar, three quarters of which comes from sweet foods and drinks, said the researchers.

Dr Knuppel added: “Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term. People experiencing low mood may eat sugary foods in the hope of alleviating negative feelings. Our study suggests a high intake of sugary foods is more likely to have the opposite effect on mental health in the long-term.”

Co-author Professor Eric Brunner, also from UCL, said the new sugar tax on soft drinks which takes effect in April 2018 was a “step in the right direction”.

He said: “Our findings provide yet further evidence that sugary foods and drinks are best avoided. The physical and mental health of British people deserves some protection from the commercial forces which exploit the human ‘sweet tooth’.”

sugar

Catherine Collins, from the British Dietetic Association, was one of a number of experts to urge caution. “Whilst the findings as reported are interesting, the dietary analysis makes it impossible to justify the bold claims made by the researchers about sugar and depression in men.”

“More surprising is the lack of reported effect in women, who have a far more emotional relationship with food,” she said. Reducing intake of free sugars is good for your teeth, and may be good for your weight, too. But as protection against depression? It’s not proven.”

Professor Tom Sanders, a nutrition expert at King’s College London, said: “This is an observational study not a clinical trial and its interpretation needs to be treated with caution.”

“While the authors have tried to adjust for the effects of social factors there still is a risk of residual confounding. There is also a major problem in that sugar intake is under-reported in the overweight and obese, which the authors acknowledge.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Long-Term Use Of The Alternative Sugar Increases The Risk Of Obesity

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, research suggests.

A wide-ranging review has found that long term use of the sweeteners – including aspartame, sucralose and stevia – may have negative effects on our metabolism and appetite, as well as our gut bacteria.

And contrary to expectation based on the belief cutting out sugar would prevent weight gain, evidence that taking artificial sweeteners reduces weight was mixed.




Researchers at the University of Manitoba’s George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation reviewed 37 studies that followed over 400,000 people for an average of 10 years.

The researchers said there was no consistent weight loss seen in people who took artificial sweeteners.

Dr Ryan Zarychanski, Assistant Professor, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba said: ‘Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products.

“We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management.”

Artificial sweeteners

“Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products.”

It has been suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners may have a stimulating effect on appetite and, therefore, may play a role in weight gain and obesity.

One problems with some of the artificial sweetener research is that it had been funded by industry.

The authors noted that the studies funded by industry showed a greater likelihood of subjects successfully controlling type 2 diabetes, which the researchers said suggested a possibility of bias in the results.

Artificial sweeteners

The authors noted that only seven of the 37 studies were randomized controlled trials the gold standard in clinical research – involving 1,003 people followed for six months, on average.

Another problem cited by the researchers of the current study is that many of the studies took place before 2004. Since then artificial sweetener use has increased greatly in many other foods.

One potential positive effect of artificial sweeteners not mentioned in the study is that they reduce the chances of tooth decay.

But one potential negative effect of artificial sweeteners in some cases is that they can act as laxatives.

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Pass it on: Popular Science