The real reason why leaving sugar (or gluten, milk...) for 14 days makes you feel euphoric

It could be someone who gives up sugar for a few weeks. It could also be applied to false gluten intolerants. And, of course, the fasters. Even those who restrict water consumption – as proposed in one of its phases the macrobiotic diet, even though the water has no calories. But, regardless of the food (or group of foods) from which the person in question decides to do without, the expressions are often similar and range from "I feel more vital", "with better mood", "more optimistic", "more entrepreneurial", "I focus more on the work", "I sleep deeper", "my skin looks better"... All this is the "empowerment" that accompanies the feeling of controlling the diet.

Let's see some testimonies extracted from the Internet: "With the program I quit sugar, Gained energy, mental clarity, better sleep quality and had cleaner skin," Veronica says. For his part, Sacha Harland, a 22-year-old Dutchman, thus verbized his experience after participating in the documentary Guy gives up added sugar and alcohol for 1 month by the production company LifeHunters: "Now I get up easily and have more energy. It was a pleasant surprise, as I didn't think I would physically feel so different." Finally, journalist Tracey Block summed up Prevention magazine her experience, after 100 days with the ketogenic diet: "My moods are balanced, the clothes feel better and I am honestly happier. I'm also more productive than ever."

would you experience the same symptoms for anyone who stopped taking sugar or other food of regular consumption? Experts don't think so. In any case, would depend on the amount of this carbohydrate that the person in question was consuming, Even with this in mind it would be quite rare to feel better in the office, with the couple, in family relationships... if resignation was not accompanied by a substantial change in lifestyle. That means practicing more physical activity, sleeping the hours needed, reducing stress, having hobbies and growing them, that affective relationships will be really affectionate. All this without forgetting to pass the necessary medical checks to rule out that things like lack of encouragement, vitality, entrepreneurship and sexual desire were the result of a basic illness.

Ecstasy is (only) in your imagination

Sugar is an example of some people's empowerment book by severely restricting some food or food group. There are women and men, for example, who feel happier than ever after quitting carbohydrates, an effect that has sometimes been compared to the symptoms of a drug such as MDMA or ecstasy. The same applies to those who undergo low-calorie diets. The first case of euphoria attributed to ketosis was reported by Dr. Walter Bloom, pioneer of "therapeutic" fasting in the 1950s. After several days without a bite, her patients claimed to feel as supercalifragilycytically as Mary Poppins at least at first,

These feelings have sometimes been attributed to ketosis, i.e. the production of ketones that replace glucose as an energy source for the brain. Moreover, according to an information campaign of the Community of Madrid entitled Disorders of food behavior: how to act from the family, the feeling of controlling food effectively creates a certain euphoria. But what do the experts think? Are we dealing with a paranormal phenomenon? Is it possible to experience improvement in different fields (work, sentimental, family...) simply by giving up a food or fasting?

Dietitian-nutritionist Julio Basulto thinks no. "The first thing I would say is that you have to see if that is true or not, because it could be that a very small part of the population felt really better, but that the vast majority would not notice any change in their vitality, in their level of happiness, in their work performance, in the tone of their skin. This reminds me of those who proclaim, 'My grandfather smoked all his life and died at 92', but of course nothing is said about grandparents who died at the age of 60 from smoking," he says. On the other hand, in order to attribute this alleged improvement to a dietary change, in this case, to dispense with a food or food group, there should be "biological plausibility". I mean, evidence. "For example, there is biological plausibility," "says the book's co-author More vegetables, less animals (Depocket) - "that drinking coffee contributes to being more awake. However, there is no need for drinking coffee that it is possible to pass a career without studying. Well, this is the same..."

But Basulto goes even further: if it were true, says that by removing a food or one of the three existing macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) you would be able to experience psychological improvements, that is, already not only in the nutritional field, but also in the sentimental, work, family, etc., then psychiatrists would be undesirable, since they would be depriving the population of a very cheap treatment (remove from sugar or anything else), that would save many people the pile of pills that usually accompanies a standard treatment to alleviate anxiety, depression, stress... "However," the expert continues, "studies take these factors into account, so the only reasonable hypothesis is that the deprivation of that food or macronutrient to which you are so used exercise a placebo effect on some people.

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Or what's the same: "If I've managed to stop taking sugar (or carbohydrates or whatever), the rest is a piece of cake." For dietitian-nutritionist Olga Ayllón, this is a fairly common reaction she has observed in her office. "Losing one or two trouser sizes provides a lot of motivation and leads you to think that it is possible to achieve similar self-control in other plots that have nothing to do with food," confirms,

If the new habit is unsustainable, we go wrong

"If the person comes from an uncontrolled situation, of course that feeling control can convey a certain sense of security", intervenes from Logroño Teresa Ureta, member of the clinical specialization group of the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Most people who make these drastic changes do not take into account that often the elimination of a particular food involves reducing the amount of food in general, something that in some cases is accompanied by an improvement, regardless of the bioclinical changes caused by dispensing with something," he says: "The key lies in the sustainability of change." Despite this, there are those who end up subscribing to information without any scientific basis. "When someone has clear ideas, they're not that vulnerable," Ureta recalls. "From my experience, dieters tend not to have healthy basic habits and are overly concerned about eating."

Others, Gemma López-Guimer, PhD in Health Psychology and specialist in eating problems (restrictive diets, stress , anorexia, bulimia,...) thinks otherwise. "These phenomena are complex, so there is never a single explanation for these verbalizations. My first comment is that the brain likes there to be a coherence between what we think and what we do," he says. "When we opt for an option, what we do is we overestimate its benefits and underestimate the potential harms. Therefore, if I have decided to give up sugar, my tendency will be to exalt the benefits and minimize the inconveniences", notes this professor of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and master's degree in Dietetics and Human Nutrition.

"One consequence of the above is that if, in practice, an alternative does not turn out to be sufficiently rewarding, the person who made the decision to dispense with a food and, at times, to go against his own biology, will modify his beliefs so that the path he has taken seems to be more rewarding than it actually is", emphasizes the specialist, with twenty publications in scientific journals. "Also in anorexia there is a first phase of exaltation that some of my patients say is beautiful, although in a short time it gives way to a real hell, because many of these people think, 'If I have been able to control what I eat, with how difficult it is, how I will not be able to get other things," he explains

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This is the price of your head

"A possible hypothesis of why this euphoria is that by restricting an important nutrient, the body becomes stressed and secretes adrenaline, a hormone that activates us to be alert and look for food that we lack, so it is very possible that this feeling of greater vitality corresponds to that extra dose", adds López-Guimer. "Another thing the body does when it is stressed by that deficiency is releasing endorphins to block the sensation of pain. But this state of permanent alertness for lack of food exhausts the body in a few days, at which point everything is turned against and where there used to be vitality, there is beginning to be tired."

For example, some of your patients who take protein powders tell you that, after a few days, they start to have ramps, they get more tired than before when playing with their children, etc. "This is extrapolable to any diet that is severely restricted from macronutrients or is very low in calories. In the long run, those who follow this type of fast are in a bad mood and their libido falls down the floor. It's a struggle between something that has been decided mentally, to stop eating, and biology itself, that always goes ahead and ends up winning, unless the person ends up developing a mental disorder," he warns. But there is one thing: those who practice apartheid with some food group often drag a long history of regimes behind their backs, as well as strongly oppose the "nutritionally correct.

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To the best of our knowledge, ignoring a component in our feed does not result in a cascading effect on other life orders. If so, Julio Basulto points out, studies would have been demonstrated and that nutrient would be installed in protocols to eliminate that nutrient (or whatever) so that people would find themselves psychologically better. In other words, there would be investigations that would demonstrate the benefit in question. But in the absence of them, the only thing that can be said is that life is much more complex, even if humanity has resorted to a talisman since the world is the world,