To avoid the mental lows, get off the sugar highs.
What do roller coaster rides and drug highs have in common?
What goes up…eventually comes down.
What about sugar highs and cortisol lows?
In yesterday’s Globe, Leslie Beck recommends high carbs to help alleviate stress. If you’re feeling frantic, turn to sugar for a temporary fix. The article was based on a Ohio State University study that found higher fat foods in combination with stress lead to weight gain.
The conclusion was that, “Eating more carbs increased serotonin, reduced stress hormones, improved mental performance and enhanced mood…” Really? That simple? If you feel sad, eat cookies and all will be well.
Lets continue this fairy tale and write what is most people’s’ “real-life” ending.
“…until a few short minutes later when your blood sugar levels spike from that sugar-by-another-name-that doesn’t-make-it-sound-as-sweet, and insulin promptly races out to bring back the peace to your body’s streets, stashing it all safely away…in already full fat cells.”
The perpetual crashing and craving doesn’t alleviate any of the strain on our brain. We can’t rid stress with food. Ever. We can’t put out the fire by feeding it more kindle.
How about some simple biochemistry? While your brain might breathe a short sigh of relief as serotonin levels spike, this will soon be replaced by surges of insulin and then…a few minutes later, screams of cortisol.
If we want to approach stress management in a more proactive way, rather than instinctively giving into cortisol’s relentless cries, we can reach for protein or fat as the strongest armour against the perils of perpetual low blood sugar. After all, it is a stable, steady, consistent blood sugar flow that ensures the brain is always firing on all cylinders.
If we are trying to keep our brain on track, we must stay under the panic radar.