Sugar gets a bad rap—we’re constantly trying to cut back on the chocolate, the ice cream, the cookies, on all things sweet. Because we know too much sugar can lead to lasting harmful effects like high blood pressure and even diabetes. But sugar doesn’t deserve all of our hate; it deserves some love too! Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, wanted to shed some light on the little-known benefits of sugar—as it is actually essential to our health—so he put together a list of important sugar facts just for you! Just remember: he’s not referring to the sugar found in processed foods but the kind found in natural sources; so ditch the chocolate bar and pair a piece of fruit with honey instead to enjoy while reading his reminders:
1. Your brain wants and needs sugar!
Sugar is your brain’s number-one. Why? Because it feeds your brain energy! Sugar and sweets activate insulin, which then tells your body to go into fat-storage mode. The trick here to keep your brain happy and healthy as well as your body, is to simply avoid too much insulin. That’s why you should choose, say, a pineapple over pineapple juice, according to Ramsey.
2. Eating simple sugars can make you happy real quick.
Ramsey says this is because the rarest of the rare amino acids is tryptophan, which we make serotonin out of, and eating these sweet foods surges its transference to the brain. This is why we love it so much! However, it’s still important to stick to “nutrient-dense sources”, like fruits and dairy products.
3. It’s crucial to “find your sweet spot”.
According to Ramsey, we should be targeting “slow-burning”, sugar-rich foods. This is because natural sweeteners are paired with fiber. An example of one of these foods is kale! Possibly one of the last foods you expected to contain sugar, but it’s true.
4. You can’t really become addicted to sugar.
Addiction is more than just developing unhealthy habits—it’s a serious illness. So while one can certainly get into a bad habit of chewing candy on their drive home from work or eating ice cream before bed, Ramsey wants you to know that this isn’t an addiction.
5. When sugar isn’t available, fat steps in.
A lot of people attempt to cut out carbs and sugar in attempt to lose weight. And when you do, your brain puts plan b into motion: burn fat instead. According to Ramsey, your brain “can run on ketones, which you make from the stored energy in fat during times of fasting or eating less than 60 grams of carbs per day.”
6. The good kind of bacteria loves sugar.
You can one: eat a lot of junk food and foster unhealthy bacteria that will make you want to eat even more junk food, or two: eat colorful vegetables and fermented foods to build a nice home for the good bacteria instead. Ramsey says if you do the latter, you’ll feel much happier and healthier.