Many of us are aware of the physical implications that eating sugar can do to our physical health, from weight gain to more long-term health issues such as diabetes, but far less attention has been applied to the effect sugar has on our mental health, even though there have been many studies to show that sugar plays an important role to our anxiety levels and mood disorders such as depression.
You may have heard of the terms “Sugar Rush” and the “Sugar Crash”. These are the spikes in your blood sugar levels after consuming sugar. Research has proven that a heavy intake of sugar will lead to anxiety, depression, and some cases it has even been linked to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia! (Weissman et al, 1996, Peet, M. 2004, Sack, D. 2013)
Sugar is the root of chronic inflammation impacting the immune system, the brain, and more which have been implicated in depression. It also suppresses the activity of a hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is also known to be low in people suffering with known mental health disorders. (Peet, M. 2004). This hormone helps stimulate new brain cells and protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, whilst also acting as a natural anti-depressant. Lower levels of this hormone are linked to depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. Memory loss and cognitive learning abilities have also been linked with sugar consumption. (Koleva, G. 2012)
We often find ourselves trapped in a vicious circle. We are all naturally drawn to sweet foods from birth and so we find ourselves always drawn to sugary foods to satisfy cravings, stress, anxiety and so on… However, consuming that sugar then suppresses hormones triggering more stress, anxiety, mood disorders and so the cycle begins.
There is so much research in this field that I want to share with you to give you a full understanding of the effect of sugar on your body and mind, but it is also very complex so I will share this information with you over a series of posts.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or you are concerned that your food intake may be adding to your mood disorders, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.