WELL BEING: Sugar Sensitivity

6 Sep

c57 mouse

Have you ever known someone who can eat practically anything and still not gain weight?

You reward yourself with a  delicious sugary treat while they hardly notice dessert and focus on their meal, which by the way, was probably twice the size of the meal you ate.  And while you struggle a whole month trying to lose 10 pounds, they seem to be capable of improving their body with ease.  You splurge on a little chocolate and gain back all the weight you worked so hard to lose while they look fabulous, as usual.

This, my friends, is called “inherited preference.”  Some people are born hungry for sugar and others.. are not.

My friend Jenny is the perfect example.  She is from China and looks half her age.  Her health literally sparkles through her vivid eyes.  I recently asked her “do you ever eat cake or cookies?”

Jenny’s response was quick.  “Never.  Too sweet!”  And she made a face that looked like the sugary sweetness burned her tongue.

An extreme example of “inherited preference” is alcoholism.  Alcohol is a sugar and the genetic link passing alcoholism from generation to generation has been proven in a multitude of studies.

What happens when an alcoholic stops drinking?

They very often become sugar addicts.

Alcohol rehabilitation centers often offer up large bowls of hard candies and refrigerators full of decadent sweets, per their patient’s compulsion for sugar and the calming effect it has on them.

It may sound like an over-simplification but in lab research, mice fall into two distinct categories.  C57 mice prefer sugar and alcohol while DBA mice turn their nose up to both sugar and alcohol.  Turns out, the little C57 mice have 3 times the beta-endorphin chemical rush in the brain after a little sugar-water than their friends, the DBA’s.

That’s right, these fascinating results prove that we can get addicted to sugar, especially if we are predisposed and biochemically motivated.

In one study, C57 mice were given a little sugar-water and DBA mice were fed plain water.  After both sets of mice drank, they were each set, one by one, on a hot plate.  ** Do not try this at home.  This study was performed by trained professionals.**  The scientists would turn on the hot plate and record how long it took each mouse to raise a little paw, indicating he noticed the heat.

The DBA mice noticed the heat in 2 to 3 seconds and began doing a little dance to cool off their paws.

The C57, sugar preferring mice, did not raise a paw for nearly 12 whole seconds.

That’s right.  The sugar-water had anesthetized the sugar loving mice and they were “numbed out”, so to speak.

Studies also revealed that..

  • All C57’s regardless of their gender like sweet stuff more than DBA’s.
  • C57 males will prefer sweets more than a DBA female will.
  • In a situation called defeat-induced learned submission, the DBA’s looked for an escape, while the C57’s crouched, became immobile and defensive. Defeat-induced learned submission comes from a release of beta-endorphin.
  • The defeated mice developed tolerance to the beta-endorphin released in response to defeat.
  • C57’s get sleepy with caffeine. DBA’s do not.

“These sugar fed mice wanted to lay around instead of get up and play.  When given puzzles to solve, they would give up at the first sign of challenge and when a mouse that never had sugar before was presented with a maze to get out of, he would struggle, running back  and forth trying everything to find a way out.  The sugar-fed mice would simply give up and lay down.  Sound like a couch potato  to you?  That’s because sugar is robbing you of your natural desire to play, try new things, sort your way out of stressful situations.  Sugar addiction is most common for alcoholics.  Find a new way to manage.”  Kathleen DesMaisons, addiction therapist

In terms of nature versus nurture, we are all naturally born predisposed to prefer sugar or resist it.

Nurture, however, also counts for a lot.  We may be born with a predisposition to dislike sugar but enough experiences that feature sugar as a reward may create a taste for the sweet stuff that can last a lifetime.

For someone with sugar sensitivity, nothing feels better than a beta-endorphin rush and nothing feels worse than a beta-endorphin crash.  Crashing automatically makes you want to retreat, isolate, crouch, get defensive and withdraw.  No, you really are not that crabby and unsociable but chemically speaking, you are in a fix.

So while you focus on cutting refined white sugars out of your diet, be sure to put equal attention on beta-endorphin raising activities.  Play, laughter, prayer, dancing, hugs, great movies, exercise, babies, relaxing, good music, yoga, ocean waves.  All of these naturally raise the soothing beta-endorphin levels in the brain without numbing us out.  Let the wonderful experiences of life wash over you and the desire to enjoy more will grow in you.

2 Responses to “WELL BEING: Sugar Sensitivity”

  1. Yorinda September 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Hi Lynn,

    that is a great article on sugar.

    Wow the mice didn’t notice the heat on their little paws for a long time!

    I tried to find your twitter name so I could add it when I share it to 12 sites with Pingfm.
    My twitter name is Yourinda.

    Thank you for sharing this.
    Love and Joy


    • Lynn Van Noy September 7, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

      Also, find me on Twitter at LynnVanNoy. So happy to connect with you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: