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Why Sugar Makes Us Sleepy (And Protein Wakes Us Up)

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 08:24 AM
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Why Sugar Makes Us Sleepy (And Protein Wakes Us Up)
By Jonah Lehrer December 6, 2011


John Updike, in his short story Plumbing, summarized human nature thusly: We think we are what we think and see when in truth we are upright bags of tripe. This is a tragic fact that we spend most our lives trying to forget. Although we like to imagine ourselves as the driver our consciousness is in full control that belief is a lovely illusion. In reality, we are mere passengers aboard the body, strapped to a fleshy engine that is driving us.

Consider the orexin system. Secreted by a small cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus, orexin is a neuropeptide that regulates an astonishing array of mental properties, from sleepiness to hunger. People with chronically low levels of orexin suffer from narcolepsy and obesity; many also have cataplexy, which occurs when the experience of strong emotions triggers a sudden weakening of skeletal muscles. (Laughter makes them go limp.) Studies have shown that injecting mice with orexin increases metabolism, largely because it makes the animals more active. The reverse is also true: low levels of orexin make people feel rundown and tired. This helps explain the mechanics of sleep deprivation, as keeping monkeys awake for extended periods all but silences their orexin cells. (However, studies show that the exhaustion can be quickly cured with an injection of the peptide.) In many respects, orexin acts like an internal gas pedal, as even slight twitches in the system can dramatically shift levels of activity.

The reason the orexin system is so important is that it links the needs of the body to the desires of the mind. Several studies have demonstrated that the intake of sugar can decrease the activity of orexin cells, which is probably why we want to nap after a carb heavy lunch. This phenomenon also begins to explain the downward spiral of obesity triggered by our warped modern diet. Because we eat lots of refined sugars, washing down Twinkies with cans of Coke, we continually reduce levels of orexin in the brain, which then reduces levels of physical activity. In other words, we get fat and sleepy simultaneously.

However, not every food has such perverse consequences. Its long been recognized that meals high in protein are both more filling and less exhausting, which is why were always being told to snack on almonds and follow the Zone Diet, with its balance of carbs, protein and fat. (This study, for instance, found that protein rich breakfasts significantly improved cognitive performance.) Although the biological mechanism behind this dietary wisdom has always been unclear, thats beginning to change we finally understand why consuming protein can be an effective weight loss tool. The answer returns us to orexin.


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http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/12/why-sugar-mak... /

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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 08:27 AM
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1. Thanks!
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snagglepuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 09:12 AM
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2. AS I posted in the Health Forum last week, I gave up bread/wheat and
the changes to my metabolism have been nothing short of phenomenal. I still eat carbs like oatmeal, rice and legumes but not wheat. Perhaps the problem with bread is not just the wheat but the amount of sugar. Anyway very interesting article. Thanks for posting.
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Frustratedlady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 09:34 AM
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4. Why did you give up wheat? Because of the changes they have made?
I read something a couple weeks ago, but can't recall the details. Something about wheat adding pounds because of changes they had made in the grain? I never saw anything more after that.

Whole wheat bread is about all I eat. I haven't had white bread in years.
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snagglepuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 09:43 AM
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5. Here's my post that explains how it was I gave up bread and I only ate
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Frustratedlady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 09:32 AM
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3. I was eating almonds and dried fruit as I read this.
I will expect phenomenal energy for the rest of the day, as I have a ton of stuff to do.

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tridim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 09:50 AM
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6. I guess I'll have that overnight-cooked brisket for breakfast instead of waiting for lunch.
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riverbendviewgal Donating Member (377 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 09:50 AM
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7. Sugar with carbs is a weight gainer
Just think after WWII the rise in obesity and diabetics happened in America and also at the same time the rise in processed foods came about.

My son lost 100 pounds staying away from sugar and carbs, especially sugar.
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tridim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 10:24 AM
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8. I eat tons of sugar and carbs and don't gain a pound.
It depends on your body's metabolism.
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sense Donating Member (948 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 01:40 AM
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9. Grains are what we use to fatten
cattle quickly. It has the same affect on us. It's a good thing we slaughter them young, because just like us, they're sickened by eating food they're not adapted to eat. They'd stay healthier much longer if they were allowed to eat grass as they natural would. Eating grass fed beef also helps us stay healthier, as it is much higher in omega 3's than the grain fattened beef raised in factory feedlots. There are certainly people who can tolerate grains, but there are many more who over the years will sicken due to the consumption of it and most will never realize the reason their health has declined. Eating the FDA, ADA, AHA and AMA approved diet doesn't lead to health, but to larger and larger profits for pharma.

Great video:

http://vimeo.com/couchmode/ancestralhealthsymposium/vid...
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 12:16 PM
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10. Dr. Atkins proven right, again.
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