It seems like the health and wellness community is in an all out battle against sugar lately. Sure, we all know we “should” avoid excess sugar. However, the messaging is LOUDER AND CLEARER than ever. I was listening to a podcast recently in which the guest explained how to calculate the amount of sugar in your food. It isn’t enough to just look at the food label, the guest explained. There is sugar naturally in good. So, take total carbohydrates, subtract fiber, and divide by 4. That will tell you the number of teaspoons of sugar in a serving of what you are about to eat. The American Heart Association recommends men eat less than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day and woman eat less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. Watching what you eat, and doing the math, you will notice that you can hit this number really easily. So, we always have to ask, why is this a bad thing?
Negative Impacts of Sugar
We’ve given you some really good reasons lately. For one, sugar decreases your immune system. You can read more about that HERE. However, CrossFit Headquarters recently shared an old CrossFit Journal Article that includes a couple more reasons to avoid sugar, like it’s impact on BDNF.
What the heck is BDNF? That’s short for Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. It is a protein that enhances brain health and neuroplasticity. It plays a vital role in learning, memory, depression, and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Higher concentrations are a good thing. Lower concentrations have been related to things like Alzheimer’s, depression, and suicide.
Bringing all of this full circle, higher concentrations of sugar in our diet, and blood stream, has a negative impact on BDNF. In one particular study from the University of Southern California, rodents fed diets high in saturated fat and refined sugar exhibited reduced levels of BDNF. Thus, the first step in encouraging high(er) levels of BDNF should be obvious: eat less sugar.
However, is there more you can do to encourage higher levels of BDNF? Sure there is. A 2010 study demonstrated that “short-duration” resistance training positively impacts BDNF concentrations and that regular resistance training elevates circulating BDNF. Finally, what qualifies as short-duration resistance training? You are right again . . . CrossFit.