Many people rely on stimulants such as caffeine and sugar to give them much needed energy throughout the day. Have you considered that if you gave up these stimulants altogether there would be no need for them? Your energy levels would be more constant.
What goes up, must come down — this is a scientific law. In our bodies, a quick elevation in the nervous system requires a quick response to normalize, as the body naturally tries to restore balance. Therefore, the quick rush feels good, but it cannot be sustained — another low is right around the corner.
A period of stimulation is met with a period of depression. The high is temporary, but the low is lasting as the body repairs and detoxes.
We aspire toward balance and harmony when talking about health — working “with” the body. Mentally, we want to enjoy a temperament that is an even keel — a calm concentrated mind that is clear and can coast through the stresses of the day. This picture of mental health is more achievable if we avoid the stimulants that cause the unnecessary highs and lows.
The highs feel like a hit of energy, but they are actually a burst of stress.
For example, a common scenario is that you drink two to four cups of caffeine-containing beverages a day to keep energy levels up. However, after every high there is an inevitable longer lasting low. We wind up feeling more exhausted the more caffeine we drink. Caffeine is also known to affect the deep cycles of sleep.
What is our mental state like after a lack of quality sleep over days, weeks, or months?
The other common scenario is that you eat sugary foods to give you a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon or mid-morning. After the initial rush of energy you feel tired, low, and hungry for more food; our bodies are still looking for the nutrition that the empty calories promised. Our sweet tooth is also getting stronger from the addiction and you can say you are hooked on high-carb snacks.
While taking daily sugar and caffeine hits, our pattern is met with crisis after crisis — at the top and down the bottom — as our blood sugar levels continually sky rocket and plummet.
When we keep this pattern of crisis going by consuming stimulants day in and out, stress and uric acid build up, causing acidosis. These substances not only affect the body, they affect the mind. Enter stage door left — anxiety, depression, exhaustion, mood disorders, and headaches.
Low moods? Depressed? Stimulants are the culprits
When consumed, stimulants such as caffeine, refined sugar, nicotine, alcohol, and of course amphetamines, gear the body for action by increasing the heart rate, releasing sugar into the blood, and releasing cortisol — a stress hormone.
Your body is in now in “fight or flight” mode, you are ready to run from the tiger you have just encountered. In reality, however, there is no tiger, and you don’t run — your body must slowly return to normal as it balances out the sugar, mops up the stress, and relaxes — what a big job!
What happens when you meet this terrifying tiger four to five times a day? The body is forced to deal with this crisis multiple times. But as I mentioned before, every high comes at a price, and what goes up, still must come down.
Your adrenals pay a heavy price for the perpetual ups and downs as it regulates your stress hormones, eventually wearing out. Have you heard of adrenal fatigue?
The insulin your body makes to metabolize the super-sized hit of refined sugar becomes harder to make — the wheels on your machine are getting heavier and harder to push. At this point you may notice fatigue, lack of concentration, and low moods throughout the day. Maybe you get cranky and irritable? Maybe sad? Everyone’s different. When your body struggles to make insulin it eventually becomes diabetic.
Overuse of sugar and sugar addiction can present multiple symptoms including emotional or aggressive outbursts, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, low libido, insomnia, fatigue, and many more. You may easily shrug it off as fighting off a cold, not sleeping well, PMS, or stress. But it’s surprising how this stress can so readily become a normal state of being as we forget what it’s like to feel deeply calm and ride the slower ebbs and flows.
Fact: Countries that love their sugar coincidently have higher rates of depression.
Your brain on two most common stimulants: sugar and caffeine
This video by Dr. Dan Schultz delivers a strong warning about the effects of the most commonly used and over-used stimulants in the western world — caffeine and sugar. He also reminds us that a life free of chemical dependancy can offer us a simple feeling of peace and enjoyment by being in our natural state.
When quitting stimulants: Easy does it
All stimulants effect blood sugar, so your aim should not only be to cut out the stimulant, but to keep your blood sugar levels even by swapping refined sugar for fruit and vegetables containing fiber — allowing the natural sugars to be slowly released over time.
Protein and good fats — such as coconut oil, flax seed oil, and olive oil — are also good for maintaining energy and helping to keep your appetite satisfied longer.
Eating more fruit and vegetables, which are alkaline foods, also have the added benefit of kicking cravings due to the minerals they contain, and can neutralize the acid that stimulants create in your body. Further, drinking more water will help manage cravings as you become properly hydrated and detox. Sometimes thirst feels like hunger.
When you decide you want to cut out stimulants keep note of what you are consuming and slowly cut down day-by-day so the body has time to adapt. Sugar and caffeine are real drugs, and if you want to avoid withdrawal symptoms don’t go cold turkey! Avoid headaches, moodiness, fatigue, and other uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms by taking it slow.
Discover a calmer energy flow
We now know that the initial high, or rather burst, of stress is just the beginning step to how stimulants work in the body. What happens after this crisis lasts hours, or even days, after the event. Therefore, you are often not aware that the negative reactions you are experiencing are connected to the stimulant you had sometime ago.
For example, the coffee you had this morning added to your feelings of stress and anxiety today, leading you to have insomnia tonight. When you have several caffeine or sugar hits in a day, the depression your body is experiencing is continual.
When you decide to give up your regular sugar, caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol consumption, you can look forward to feeling a relaxed kind of vitality you only remember when you were a child.
When you quit the stimulants and recover from the addiction, a steady and constant stream of energy will support you throughout the day. Come night time, you will fall into a delicious, deep sleep more easily, and wake feeling refreshed and cheerful.
If you regularly became irritable and have a short fuse, expect to feel more patient and relaxed. The pressure in your head will ease as your body and brain cool down — you might even find yourself feeling more cheery and inspired by the simple beauty of everyday life.
The causes and triggers of depression and anxiety are complex, but I can say one thing rather confidently — the regular use of everyday stimulants do cause stress and will not help you to recover from anxiety, depression, or stress-related issues. Regular use of stimulants can also rob you of your energy, which leads to fatigue in the long run.
The positive effects may take days or weeks to experience, depending on how dependent your body is on those substances. However, when you get a hint of the first “calmness” trickling down, you’ll know there is more on the way — the wholesome feeling just improves overtime.