Written by Dr. Adam Coats
The presence of refined sugars in the diets of most people is a relatively new phenomenon. Today, overconsumption of diets rich in these sugars is a large contributing factor to the current obesity epidemic. The pleasure we receive from these sweet tasting foods is so intense that it has often been compared to the pleasure received from drug addictions.
In a study published in 2007, a group of rats with no prior experience with refined sugar or artificial sweetener were allowed to choose between two different levers: one lever was rewarded by a behaviorally effective dose of cocaine and the other lever was rewarded by access to water sweetened with saccharin (a calorie free sweetener). It was found that 94% of the rats preferred the sweet taste of saccharin. The same preference was also observed with sucrose, common table sugar.1 These findings mean that sugar can be more addictive than cocaine. Think about that for a minute. Sugar is absolutely everywhere in our foods today, yet it can be more addictive than cocaine.
This is especially noticeable when we are under a great deal of stress. The hormones present during the stress response cause us to crave fat and sugar.2 We were meant to eat fiber containing carbs and essential fatty acids. However, many of us now consume processed non-fiber carbs and trans fatty acids because they are so common, cheap, quick, and easy to access in today’s world. So when we’re stressed, we often want to eat unhealthy foods. Sound familiar?
Drugs have a profound effect on the function of the brain, as do the refined sugars that are everywhere in society today, let’s look at a couple of examples.
Dopamine release in the brain is associated with motivation, movement, feelings of reward and accomplishment, and high energy levels. When our sugar intake levels are too high, our brains create less dopamine receptors to avoid getting too much dopamine into the cells. This leads to less dopamine in the cells, which leads to less motivation, less movement, less feelings of reward and accomplishment, and lower energy levels.3
The prefrontal cortex is an area in the brain that is responsible for executive function. Meaning that it is responsible for “planning a sequence of tasks to accomplish a goal, focusing attention on relevant information as well as inhibiting irrelevant distractions, being able to switch attention between tasks, monitoring memory, initiation of activity, and responding to stimuli.”4 This area of the brain is the last area of the brain to mature and is extremely dependent on dopamine. Therefore, this area of the brain doesn’t function to its maximal capabilities when we’ve consumed too much sugar, especially in children and teenagers because it is the last area of the brain to develop.
So what do we do? Obviously, decreasing our sugar intake is a good start. Adding chiropractic care to our lifestyle is a great choice as well.
The specific goal of the care we provide in our office is to restore proper motion within the joints of the spine because we know that 90% of stimulation and nutrition to the brain comes from properly moving joints in the spine.5 Improvements in reaction time, cortical processing, cortical sensorimotor integration, reflexes, motor control, and upper and lower limb muscle strength have been documented following chiropractic care. This is because of the effect the adjustments have on the prefrontal cortex.4
So if you want to be able to set a solid plan to reach your goals, increase your focus and memory, eliminate distractions, and live an overall happier more fulfilling life, then Lifestyle Chiropractic Care is a great fit for you! By lowering sugar intake levels and adding chiropractic care to your lifestyle, you’re setting yourself up to reach all of the goals you want life.
If you’d like to get started right away, don’t hesitate to click the button at the top of this page and schedule an appointment!
- Lenoir, M. (2007). Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLOS One, 2(8), 698.
- Chestnut, J. L. The 14 Foundational Premises for The Scientific and Philosophical Validation of The Chiropractic Wellness Paradigm.
- Colantuoni, C. (2001). Excessive sugar intake alters binding to dopamine and mu-opioid receptors in the brain. Neuroreport, 12(16), 3549-3552.
- Lelic, D. (2016) Manipulation of Dysfunctional Spinal Joints Affects Sensorimotor Integration in the Prefrontal Cortex: A Brain Source Localization Study. Neural Plast,
- Sperry, Roger. Nobel Laureate. 1981