Feature Entry: Sugar, A Serotonin Buzz Killer
In our last blog the so-called serotonin buzz was linked to the pleasure we brisk walkers receive when the stimulation from hard work triggers the brain to produce increased amounts of the hormone serotonin. The free flowing serotonin stimulates the production of endorphins, drug-like brain chemicals that in turn trigger opioid receptors creating a sensation of happiness.
The careful reader might also recall our fear that sugar might possible be a spoiler in this natural fairy tale. As it turns out, sugar, especially granulated sugar creates the same brain scenario as exercise. Worse, granulated sugar is essentially an “invasive species” to the brain's anatomy and physiology. Not until modern times has sugar been plentiful enough and affordable enough to be an abundant staple of our diet.
Have there been unintended consequences to the invasion? Yes, biochemists report that granulated sugar creates an artificial increase in serotonin in a way that causes the body to “down-regulate” its natural production and release of serotonin. Since serotonin is responsible for controlling mood and appetite, without serotonin a person becomes depressed. As if a person’s self is independent of his/her brain, a SOS is sent to the brain for help. The brain, now lazy in terms of serotonin production, responds back, “Give me sugar!” Self pops in a candy bar and swigs down a cola, and eureka, everyone is happy.
Unfortunately for those wishing to maintain a healthy BMI (body mass index), the unconscious dialogue between self and brain forges an emotional bond between happiness and sugar. Some become “serotonin addicts” and develop a dependency on an ever increasing level of serotonin in order to gain tranquility even at the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and socially unacceptable weight gain.
Is there an antidote? Yes, return to the basics. Retrain your brain to secrete serotonin using what nature intended—aerobic exercise which includes walking and other forms of aerobic exercise. Remember the MoneyWalker’s five keys to weight loss and weight loss maintenance:
Weight every day
Eat a high fiber breakfast (no orange juice)
Walk 45 minutes or more a day
Practice portion control (eat smaller amounts), and
Journal what you eat
Today’s weight = 173.0
Money Finds since last entry = $5.77 over four walks for $1.44 average.