Sugar, a Trick or a Treat?
Learn about Sugar and the effects on the body.
Written By. Nicole Heuschkel L.Ac
The days are slowly getting cooler and the trees will start to pop with beautiful Autumn colors. The transition of a new season is upon us yet again. Enthusiasm will be in the air as cheering fans root for their favorite football teams. Savory scents of cinnamon and pumpkin will be filling kitchens as families bake cookies and pies for loved ones. Children will be buzzing around in excitement as they await to dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating. It is easy to get caught up in the pleasure of all that Fall brings, but all of these overindulgences can lead to the same thing… Sugar overload. Whether it is alcoholic beverages, party snacks or secretly tapping into your child’s stock pile of trick-or-treating candy, these can all have a profound effect on a person’s health.
Sugar and highly processed carbohydrates cause inflammation in the body. It can exasperate existing conditions, like pain. Consumption of sugar and highly processed carbohydrates elevate insulin levels, which if continued long term will actually create an insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps control the blood sugar. It also controls many aspects of fat cell metabolism and is the principle anabolic hormone in adults. Insulin resistance is when the body produces insulin but does not use it properly. Normally insulin is produced in response to the presence of glucose (blood sugar), and helps cells take in the glucose and use it for energy. If a person is insulin resistant, the muscles, fat and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin. The pancreas essentially fails as it needs to increase its production of insulin substantially to keep up with the body’s production of glucose. Excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream which can eventually lead to complications. High amounts and long term intake of sugar can relate to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimers, Crohns etc.
Sugar triggers the release of dopamine, which is a feel good chemical. When we eat sugar, we temporarily feel good, until we are rudely awoken as the blood sugar spikes and then crashes. A vicious cycle is usually created, as most people want to feel good again so they seek out more sugar. As this continues, the body will become used to the intake of a certain level. As with any addiction, the person will need more and more of the substance to achieve that same euphoric feeling.
An excess intake of sugar can lead to what is referred to in Eastern Medicine as “dampness.” This can result directly from what a person eats or from their lifestyle and location. A significant principle of dampness is heaviness. This can include feelings of lethargy, fatigue, depression, etc. If prolonged, this can translate into stagnation in the form of fixed masses, arthritis and weight gain. The main organ/meridian connected to this is the Spleen. One of many functions of the Spleen include the resolution of dampness in the organs and channels. This helps stabilize emotions, energy and digestion issues. A good point to include in an acupuncture treatment or with acupressure on yourself is Spleen 6. This point is located on the inside of the lower leg, four finger width above the tip of the ankle bone, on the back of the shin bone. Spleen 6 tonifies the yin and blood and helps with digestive issues, prolapse, anxiety, etc.
Another great point is Spleen 9. This point aids in resolving and draining dampness, as well as addressing any water issues in the body (bloating, swelling). Spleen 9 is located on the medial aspect of the lower leg, in the depression of the lower border of the medial condyle of the tibia.
Fall is a fun, festive filled time of the year. As easy as it is to indulge, it’s important to be aware of how you are feeling. When you listen to your body, and take care of it, you will gain energy and feel more vibrant. When you feel better overall, you will find that you are able to enjoy all those parties, football games and activities with the kids that much more.
For more information on how Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation can help, contact our office at 732-345-1377. We are now open Saturdays to accommodate our patients.