Craving Sweets

Brain and sugar 02

At the same time the flood of glucose from drinking a “sports beverage” is dying out. So when the cells with some delay start to react to all the insulin floating around, the amount of available glucose will be plummeting to a sub-optimal level. Making your brain go a bit numb and make you feel tired, lethargic or lazy.

It will also make you brain go cranky: “Who stole all my food????? Quickly! We are running out of fuel, do something!!!!!” I know your brain is capable of thought that are more sophisticated than that, but in a low fuel situation you tend to run on instinct, on habit and not do any actual thinking. This is partly because the part of the brain that monitors the fuel situation will gradually monopolize all and any available brain resources (visualization, language, memory, executive function) and recruit them in service of finding food: “Do we still have Oreos in the kitchen drawer? Or do we need to make a trip to the corner store?” You normal rational thought process is left with no resources and is in effect demoted from controlling anything. Your brain feels the same way about glucose as your body feels about oxygen: If you starve yourself (diving a bit too long in the pool) your body will react and make oxygen the sole priority of all that you do. And this will be in a way that you don’t really have any say in, as a rational thinker. You just react to an increasing sense of panic over lack of air. The brain react in pretty much the same fashion when starved for glucose, just on a  much slower time scale. At some point it becomes impossible to not think about food and you start to look for high energy foods where ever you know they can be found. Your brain demands it. Instinct takes over.

To recap the process so far:

1. Monopolizing of brain resources: As you brain sense a lack of fuel, energy supply becomes the sole priority

2. Regulation of glucose by insulin: To avoid damages, glocose levels needs to limited. This is affected by the release of insulin.

3. Time frame for regulation of glucose levels by insulin: Sugary foods will give a short boos of energy. High levels of insulin will later effect a crash in glucose levels.

4. Time frames for learning and for learned behaviors: You behaviors are most easily learned from immediate results. This includes the initial boost of energy from sweets and sugary foods. But the following energy crash is only included to a lesser degree and has less influence on learned behaviors and habits.

5. Dysregulation of glucose due to time frame mismatch: The bad effects of glucose instability does not affect your behavior in the easy automatic way that the good effects do. So instability can lead to a enduring pattern where brain energy levels are unstable and affected by big differences in glucose levels.

6. While it is possible to repeat the cycle often and thus have more peaks, this will soon result in weight gain and other health consequences. These unwanted effect will act to limit how much extra eating can compensate for lack of stable energy.

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