Sugar activates your brain’s reward centers like nothing else, so it’s no surprise that a little indulgence can easily turn into a full on sugar binge. And when this happens your body responds with even more cravings.
A sugar detox can help you recover from a sugar binge and minimize metabolic damage, while preventing the slide down the slippery sugar slope in the future. Total restriction isn’t the answer, and there are a few things you can put into place now to help.
What Happens After A Sugar Binge
At one time or another, we all succumb to indulging in a little too much sugar. Whether at a party or just a night in after a long week, many of the classic comfort foods are high in added sugar. After eating more sugar than we’re used to, the body’s sugar processing timeline looks like this:
- 1 minute: Sugar provides fuel for bacteria which form an erosive acid, attacking tooth enamel. (This is a great time to brush those teeth!)
- 15 to 30 minutes: Sugar (glucose) is absorbed into the bloodstream, and the pancreas releases insulin to convert what it can into energy. The rest is converted into fructose and shuttled to the liver where it’s stored as fat.
Your brain releases dopamine, though, and it feels pretty good! Your body will want more of this feeling later…
- 30 to 45 minutes: Time for the crash. Insulin previously released along with stress hormones cause a dramatic drop in blood sugar—leaving you feeling irritable and craving more sugar (and a dopamine rush)
- 45 minutes: Rapidly changing hormone levels disable the immune system, leaving you less able to fend off harmful pathogens. Sugar crowds out the absorption of vitamin C. This can last for several hours.
Sugar and Hormone Imbalance
Excess sugar can lead to hormone imbalance in many women. Insulin, the primary hormone affected when you eat too much sugar, is interconnected to other important hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
High insulin levels can lead the ovaries to produce more testosterone, like you’ll experience with PCOS, resulting in an increase in body hair or acne.
Imbalanced blood sugar can also result in the decrease in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which can contribute to estrogen dominance symptoms like heavy periods, PMS, and sore breasts.
Sugar binges are also responsible for a ‘crash’ afterwards, which can place stress on your adrenal glands, which are the production site for many of your body’s most important hormones.
Sugar and Weight Gain
If you’ve ever felt a little bloated after a sugar binge or indulging in more heavy carbohydrates than usual, you may temporarily put on a few pounds and look a little bloated. This is because for every gram of carbohydrates (sugar) your body stores, you also store about 3 grams of water weight.
As you saw above, when you eat sugar, your pancreas releases insulin to allow your body to use the sugar for energy. When insulin increases, it also promotes the storage of other calories as fat. You can think of insulin a little like your body’s fat storage hormone. When it’s high, you’ll use sugar for energy instead of body fat.
How to Do a Sugar Detox
Too much sugar can leave your body dehydrated as it works hard to metabolize the excess carbohydrates. As mentioned above, your body will store extra water along with the sugar you just ate, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated or you’ll end up with headaches, brain fog, and fatigue.
As your body processes the excess sugar, you’ll also lose the extra water you took on, and many of your body’s most important minerals with it. Most people are low in this crucial nutrient to begin with, and a sugar binge can make it even worse. Easily digested forms of magnesium like magnesium glycinate or citrate can help support sugar detox, as well as boosting mood and digestion.
A sudden increase in sweets often can leave you with a stomach ache. Indigestion, heartburn, or just a general feeling of malaise is common. To soothe indigestion, you can combine ingredients for an East West remedy like ginger, peppermint, and turmeric. These will help stimulate digestion, calm inflammation, and soothe an irritated stomach.
Eat a balanced meal.
After you indulge in a lot of sugar, it can be tempting to restrict meals, but it’s actually more beneficial to refuel with a balanced meal containing protein and fat than it is to starve yourself.
Adding quality proteins and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar, minimize a spike in insulin, and help keep future cravings at bay. Choose any quality protein source and pair it with nuts or seeds, avocado, coconut, or cheese.
The kind of gut bacteria responsible for increased gas and bloating thrive off of sugar. A sugar binge is exactly what these bacteria need to overgrow and cause uncomfortable digestive symptoms. You can take a probiotic, or add a supplement like Belly Fix to get back on track.
Preventing a Sugar Binge with East West Medicine
Indulge when you need to.
Completely restricting treats from your diet can and does lead to more binges and unhealthy eating patterns. It’s unrealistic to assume you should never eat sweets, and eating something that isn’t the best fuel for your body can help you reconnect with how eating well makes you feel.
Don’t starve yourself.
Many people still fall into the trap of drastically restricting calories and nutrient dense foods in pursuit of weight loss or a “healthy” diet. Restricting foods leads to further metabolic problems and cravings, which only fuels inflammation in the long term.
Eating balanced, regular meals which keep you satisfied is the best way to decrease the likelihood of sugar cravings. The 21-Day Belly Fix course can help heal your gut, decrease bloating, and get rid of sugar cravings.
Eat protein and healthy fats.
Quality proteins and healthy fats, such as coconut, grass-fed meats, cheese, avocado, or nuts and seeds activate leptin, your body’s fullness hormones. Proteins help signal to your brain that your appetite is satisfied, and it’s time to stop eating.
If you experience sugar cravings, make sure your diet contains adequate amounts of quality proteins and healthy fats first.
East West Holistic Sugar Detox
When you’ve eaten too much sugar, it’s important not to mentally punish yourself or restrict foods. Sugar is a normal part of life and eating a little too much now and then is bound to happen, but a positive mindset is more beneficial to recovery.
Delicious food is one of the pleasures of life, and indulging once in a while can help you reconnect with the way different foods make you feel. If too much sugar has you feeling less than your best, a sugar detox will help you keep cravings in check.