Why are we so addicted to sugar?

chocolate cupcakes on tray

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

We are fundamentally wired for survival.

Designed primarily to hunt and gather in times of scarcity, we are built to seek out sugar. With no guarantee of the size, timing or even certainty of the next meal, we became finely tuned to search for sugar and instinctively wired to gain pleasure from consuming it. The body, as a result, has become highly efficient at utilising sugar and storing the excess to fuel a future famine.

Aligned with this evolutionary drive to eat, we have been gifted with a ‘Hunger Management System’ policed by our old friends’ the hunger hormone Ghrelin which signals hunger and counterbalanced by the anti-hunger hormone Leptin which signals satiety by disrupting our natural desire to eat.

Fast forward to the present time.

Sugar and calories now plentiful and equipped with a finely tuned Hunger Management System: Why is portion control, calorie intake and our ability to say no to that second or third piece of cake so difficult?

Food availability has changed. How we choose our food sources and the ease with which we are able to sustain our energy needs has been hugely transformed. Our physiology has yet to catch up with this transition that we see from food scarcity to food abundance.

Whilst we wait for that 4.0 systems upgrade by Mother Nature or further research to give us answers and possibly an external solution; we need to find a strategy to deal with this desire to consume more than we need.

STRATEGIES TO HELP CURB CRAVINGS AND PROMOTE FEELINGS OF BEING SATISFIED.

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Part 3 – Sleep & Diet

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PART 3 – Using Sleep to hack diet

 

Our body has many intricate and fascinating communication systems, one of which is based on chemical messengers called Hormones.

We have  2 main hunger hormones that remind me of gremlins they are called :

 

Leptin, which is released to tell us we are full:

‘Ok chaps,  all good down here, no more food needed’

and

 Ghrelin which tells us we are running on empty:

‘Ok guys we are running on low, in need of food- send some down now’.

These hormones work together to try to keep our intake of food at the levels required for survival.

Sleep And Hormones

It has been shown that in healthy adults 4 to 5 hours sleep reduces Leptin and increases Ghrelin.  This means that our ability to know when we have eaten enough is impaired and we feel more hunger and get more signals telling us to eat.

 

Sleep And Risk Of Weight Gain

Sleep loss has been shown to result in an average 200-300 more calories eaten every day.   This equals to a 10-15lb increase in fat mass in one year- just from sleep deprivation.

 

Sleep And Choices Of Food

Studies have shown that lack of sleep may inhibit our ability to make better food choices and we have a strong tendency to choose a diet of processed carbohydrates and refined sugars such as white bread, pasta, cookies and ice cream.

 

The Less You Sleep, The More You Eat

Less than 7 hours of sleep affects your body’s ability to process sugar, so not only do we eat more of the wrong foods, we are less able to handle the extra sugar we tend to crave.

Chronic sleep deprivation of fewer than 6 hours is now recognised as a contributing factor to Type  2 Diabetes.

 

WHERE’S THE GOOD NEWS?

Giving yourself a prescription of 7 -9 hours of sleep every day will help you:

  • Control bodyweight and reduce weight gain
  • Have a better ability to process sugar
  • Reduce the risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes
  • Lose fat mass rather than muscle mass and help you become leaner
  • Calm your nervous system; less stress and therefore less need for fuel and sugar.

 

In Part 4  –  SO How DO we sleep better?