Why am i craving sweets

Brain and sugar 01

When you eat carbohydrates they get broken down into glucose that circulates in blood, is stored as glycogen or is taken up by cells to cover for energy needs. The cell will take up more glucose when hit by insulin floating around in the bloodstream. But only to a certain point where the cells don’t respond anymore.

So the function of insulin is to keep blood glucose under a certain level, but still have all cells adequately energized. What people don’t usually know is that high levels of glucose will cause serious damages to your body. The poor regulation of glucose in diabetes patients can over time cause damages and promote heart disease and kidney failure: Elevated glucose levels that occur in diabetes damage blood vessels so that the small blood vessels in the body are injured. Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and researchers think this is one of the reasons. But it also seem to lead to poor kidney function: When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly.

So it turns out that there are some very good reasons for the how the normal healthy regulation of glucose, that keeps your “blood sugar” (glucose) below dangerous levels. At the same time your brain actually need a stable supply of fuel. This is perhaps something that is not totally obvious to most people: The brain consumes a substantial part of the energy that you get from eating: While the brain is just 2% of normal body weight, it consumes about 20 % of energy on a daily basis. The brain does this fairly constantly whether you are relaxing, exercising or trying to solve a difficult problem.

This put you and your fellow human beings between a rock and a hard place:

1. You need a constant high supply of energy for your brain to work normally.
2. You need to keep blood glucose levels under a certain limit to avoid damages that leads to heart disease and kidney injury.

If you dont have enough glucose circulating, your brain function will suffer. If you have too much you risk damages. But there is one more complicating facor: To protect yourself against damages from glucose your body have a system that regulates the level of blood glucose. The regulation works like this: The pancreas are sensitive to glucose in the bloodstream and will release insulin as a response to high glucose levels. This in turn makes the cells take up more glucose leaving less in the blood stream. This feedback works very well for some kinds of food, where you don’t see any extreme peaks of glucose. But it works a bit slowly as it is based on a slow hormonal response and not on any direct nerve connection between a sensor and each cell.

And because it is slow you get in trouble if you make your blood glucose level raise very high and very fast. This will trigger a strong reaction and a big release of insulin, but it will come with a fairly big delay. It is a bit like Henry Rollins taking his first tab of acid: “This shit doesn’t work at all – lets go for another one” (not a direct quote, but close enough to be true). When finally the acid starts to kick in you then off course get a delayed effect that is much bigger than what you had originally planned.

Same thing with the pancreas: They keep sensing too much glucose and they therefor keep pumping out insulin which keeps telling the cells to take up more glucose. So you end up with a much stronger insulin effect than you actually need.

 


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