We’ve all experienced the highs and lows associated with caffeine and sugar, and today we’re going to be getting to the root of what’s really going on here. These favorites of the American diet can often be the cause of anxiety and depression and medication is frequently prescribed as the only solution, but the blood sugar fluctuations causing the anxiety can be remedied by a keto paleo lifestyle.
Sugar is a big topic when it comes to ketogenic diets because this is one of the main things that must be eliminated completely from our diet and lifestyle in order to embark on a keto paleo life. Most of you come from a standard American diet and as many of you already know, I come from an Italian background so my upbringing was slightly different than what you may have experienced. Unfortunately, there are repercussions to a diet that’s high in sugar and habitual sugar intake starts at a young age. Children and teens love their candy, chocolate, soda and energy drinks. Refined sugar became a central aspect of the American diet roughly 40-50 years ago after the second world war. Our diets changed became more carbohydrate and sugar heavy for most people.
It’s important to know when you have a high intake of sugar your insulin spikes and attempts to limit the amount of sugar by pushing the sugar into the muscles and organs to be utilized at a later time. We start to develop what I call the blood sugar roller coaster. This rollercoaster of high and low, high and low is not just a result of sugar intake, but this also happens with many stimulants including chocolate and caffeine.
How does this impact your life and why do we do this?
When we’re young we’re fed a bunch of sugar and it gets conditioned into our food choices at an early age. You may be interested to know that children have a higher tolerance for carbohydrates and sugar because they’re somewhat like a “blank slate.” Then we get set up for that roller coaster which is a self-perpetuating cycle because the more ups and downs we get the more we crave sugar. The insulin crashes make us want more carbohydrates, more sugar and then we crash. We want more energy, so we reach out to what gave us energy in the first place, which is sugar, caffeine, stimulants. And all this precludes insulin resistance, which is talked about a lot nowadays in a lot of different environments, not just ketogenic.
As we maintain this sugar and carb addiction through our childhood, into adulthood, and so on, we start to see it affecting our endocrine systems. Our adrenals get compromised by the constant stimulation and the adrenals are heavily involved in blood sugar regulation. The endocrine glands work together and they influence each other or suppress each other in different ways. It’s all connected and blood sugar levels can affect many different areas of your health. So you can’t just address one thing. If your blood sugar levels are out of whack, have issues with your adrenals, irregular estrogen production, your hormones suck, you have to consider a holistic approach. Everything is connected and I strongly the whole person and not just a component.
To understand how this impacts anxiety we’re going to have to start talking about brain chemical regulation and serotonin regulation. Sugar and caffeine can trigger dopamine reward and it’s important to understand the workings of the machinery of your brain to really get back in control and end the vicious cycle of the blood sugar roller coaster.
When you feel adrenal fatigue, your immediate reaction is to reach for more stimulants to help. By doing this you will release a cascade of brain chemicals and trigger addictive behavior pathways in your brain. These are based on dopamine reward and sugar and caffeine can be dopamine triggers. When you crash, you reach for that cup of coffee and get the caffeine high and it feels good for a minute, you get the rush, and later you crash again. The cycle repeats itself. Coffee is ingrained in our culture and extremely popular but unfortunately, there are repercussions.
I see this quite often with my patients: they’ll come to me and they have anxiety, high anxiety sometimes and they’re medicated for depression and getting prescribed various pharmaceuticals. Sadly, antidepressants are one of the most prescribed medications in the US. Prolonged use of prescription medications can have a negative impact because once you tamper with your brain chemistry there are certain chemical imbalances that are unable to be treated and corrected with proper diet and lifestyle.
Americans live in a very over medicated culture and this is because it’s a quick fix and an easy way out. It also doesn’t hurt that prescription drugs make a lot of money for some people. Unfortunately, your doctor is not trained to prescribe or to offer any other tools outside of more pills. Your doctor gets paid for prescribing medications to you. In my recent interview with Dr. Ken Berry, he shares a great conversation about working with your doctor and getting you off medication. Dr. Berry offers some excellent ideas on alternative approaches that you can try.
Is it possible to change these behaviors and patterns without using medication?
I think it is absolutely possible and the way to do it is with diet and with lifestyle. The first step is removing stimulants, caffeine, and sugar. Sugar is the main one to focus as most of the time anxiety is driven by the blood sugar imbalance.
Once we are able to remove sugar and stabilize our blood sugar levels we’ll begin to see some health benefits and less anxiety. Added benefits come when we are able to activate our dormant metabolism caused by ketosis, which is a stable and steady energy fuel. It’s great for your brain because you receive a consistent energy source and nothing irregular with hills and valleys. When you run on ketones it’s different than the fluctuation experienced with sugar because fat is a long-term energy source and we are able to maintain that steady and stable brain function or a long period of time. Another result of being keto-adapted, which I see often in my patience, is their mood improves and they’re able to get off meds with the help of their doctor.
So what’s going on here exactly?
When modifying your diet and running on mostly ketones you’re able to provide a solid and steady base and medication is not needed to help regulate and keep balanced.
Hopefully, this gave you a bit of an idea of how sugar can lead to anxiety by causing your body to experience an internal roller coaster. I hope you learned that a great way to get off that roller coaster is through a keto paleo lifestyle and using fat as your long-term energy source. I encourage you to get your blood sugar levels stable, pursue a ketogenic diet, and work towards an optimal state of health!
I recommend that you check out some of my other videos and blogs for related content. I do this for you guys and your feedback is always welcome. Join the conversation by commenting and feel free to ask questions.
Vivica has worked in a nutritional clinical practice of 4 years, coaching countless patients through detoxes and lifestyle changes.
In 2014 after her discovery of being pre-diabetic, she created a local ketogenic diet program to help people who were heading towards diabetes and obesity.
This program eventually developed into The Healing Foods Method. Vivica keeps teaching her course locally in addition to a number of classes on the ketogenic diet, traditional nourishing foods, and cooking classes.
The Healing Foods Method has been very successful from the very beginning, privately filling the program consistently until the recent release to the public.
- eliminate sugar
- carb cravings
- stop out-of-control eating
- reduce or eliminate costly prescription drugs
- punishing yourself with bland food,
- arduous amounts of exercise,
- constant pangs of hunger!
If you are ready to leave your old failed diets behind and blaze a trail to success and healthy living I invite you to take this journey of transformation with me!