‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sugar: The New Brainfood

Lately we've learned that cheese is a cheap cocaine, bacon will give us butt cancer (as will other cured meats), coffee will kill us, and sugar is surely a gateway drug to a lifetime of substance abuse. Not to mention the ongoing concern over wheat, gluten, artificial sweeteners, and goodness knows what else. What's a person to do?
First, separate fact from fiction. Your crazy friend who posted an article that bats spontaneously mutate after consuming genetically modified gluten, or dairy... Are they a scientist? Sure doesn't sound like it. Cut that crap out of your life!
Since sugar is the sure sensationalized sweetener of choice, let's focus on that. Processed foods are addictive. It's long been suggested, now there's a biological basis to show it.

Cookies, cakes, chips, ice cream, pizza... I should stop because I'm making myself hungry. BUT, all these foods have a few things in common. First, they're processed. Meaning they contain plenty of sugar; plenty of salt; a pleasant taste; a pleasing texture... They're addictive.

New research brings it back to sugar. Not only sugar, but sugar's side-kick: Insulin. Insulin is a hormone released after we eat carbohydrates (sugars). It's essential for our survival because if our blood sugar levels get too high it can cause a slew of health problems.

If you've heard of that pesky disease called type 2 diabetes? It's characterized by chronically high blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance (meaning insulin isn't working efficiently.) You've heard of  people needing toes or feet cut off due to diabetes complications? That's due to chronic high blood sugar levels because insulin isn't working properly.

Ok, ok, nobody's losing limbs yet. Back to insulin. In addition to its above job, insulin has a newly discovered role... In our brains. The release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls reward and pleasure centers in the brain, coincides with the rise of insulin in our bodies. Remember, insulin is released during the digestion/absorption of sugars. So when you eat a slice of white bread with Nutella, you're not just using insulin to regulate your blood sugar, your body is using insulin to get a "reward" of dopamine.
The new research found that rats fed a low calorie diet were more sensitive (10 fold more sensitive) to increased insulin levels. Meaning that when insulin was released, one tenth as much insulin triggered the release of dopamine compared to rats on a high calorie diet - meaning high calorie diet rats were "immune" in a sense to this response. MEANING that more sugar, and therefore insulin, is needed to get this "feel-good" dopamine response.

And THAT means sugar, insulin, and dopamine may play a strong role in food choices. People may seek out a higher carbohydrate meal to heighten this "feel-good" dopamine response.

Another sugar study, hot off the press found that after 3 months on a low sugar diet people rated vanilla puddings as tasting 40% sweeter (compared to the control group). But, even after 3 months of their low sugar diets, participants still preferred sweeter puddings. This was the opposite compared to a recent study researching salt - where, after 3 weeks on a lower salt diet, participants' taste buds adjusted to the lower levels of salt without preferring salty foods.
Ok, what are you going to do about it?
  • Make smarter food choices, cook at home
  • Choose meals with complex carbs rather than refined ones, unfortunately that means passing on Nutella - but you can, and should, still eat chocolate
  • Don't walk down the ice cream or chip aisle at the supermarket (you won't eat it if you don't bring it home!)
  • Oh, and before you reach for the artificial sweetener or diet Coke, read this science
But you're now wondering, is sugar really poison? The answer is NO! If all you ate was sugar, you would most likely develop nutrient deficiencies, and probably a few diseases. But you would too if all you ate were French fries, or even something healthy like kale.

Eat widely, eat enjoyably, eat in moderation.

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